Three cheers for REDD+ and forests in the Paris Climate Agreement

By Chris MeyerSenior Manager, Amazon Forest Policy and Dana Miller, Research Analyst


The Paris Agreement sends a strong signal for the forest protection policy REDD+. Credit: Flickr/Dams999

The Paris Agreement was a historic moment for the world, including the world’s forests. Now it is time to implement the agreement. But first, let’s take a moment to celebrate three important wins for forests and the framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

1) Article 5 on REDD+ signals political support for the existing internationally agreed framework

The Paris Agreement included a specific provision (Article 5, below) on forests and REDD+. Experts from EDF, Conservation International, Forest Trends, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Union of Concerned Scientists told press that this article “would send a strong political signal to support better protections for forests in developing countries and encourage developed nations to provide the financial incentives to do so.” This article also encourages “results-based payments”, which refers to a promising mechanism where donors pay for verified emissions reductions achieved through REDD+.

Article 5 also calls attention to the “existing framework”, referring to the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. This framework with previous and subsequent COP decisions complete the guidance for REDD+ on issues such as social and environmental safeguards, reference levels, and national forest monitoring systems, which together form the internationally recognized policy approach that REDD+ has become.

Outside the negotiations, countries, states, corporations and indigenous peoples announced how they would finance and implement the protection of forests.

2) Principles for accounting for emissions reductions ensure transparency and improvement over time for forests and other sectors

The Paris framework also includes a paragraph (below) on principles to account for countries’ emissions and removals (science-speak for the ability of forests and soils to absorb carbon from the atmosphere). These principles will ensure countries’ contributions to climate action are understandable and comparable. Furthermore, this paragraph creates a process to elaborate guidance for accounting after Paris, which will strengthen contributions.

3) The agreement overall strengthens efforts on mitigation, finance, and international markets, three important elements for REDD+

The Paris Agreement is strong overall, which is the most important signal for REDD+. The agreement calls for the highest possible ambition, increasing every five years, from all countries. It sets a long-term goal of net zero emissions in the second half of this century, recognizing the importance of removals of greenhouse gases by forests.

Additionally, the agreement encourages international cooperation and markets. That means that companies that invest in forest protection could use verified emissions units generated by programs that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in tropical countries consistent with the international policy approach for REDD+ under the Warsaw Framework and related COP decisions, to comply with market-based measures such as those being implemented and created by California and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), if those creating institutions so authorize.

Now, it’s time to act on the mandate of the agreement to scale up finance, mitigation, and international cooperation in order to save the world’s forests and climate.


Text references from this post: 

Summary of the REDD+ and land sector references in the adopted Paris agreement [PDF]

Glossary of terms and phrases that refer to the land sector and REDD+ [PDF]

Article on REDD+: 

Paris Agreement, Page 23

Article 5

1. Parties should take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1(d), of the Convention, including forests.

2. Parties are encouraged to take action to implement and support, including through results-based payments, the existing framework as set out in related guidance and decisions already agreed under the Convention for: policy approaches and positive incentives for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries; and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches.


Principles on accounting

Decisions to give effect to the Agreement; Mitigation, Page 5

31. Requests the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement to elaborate, drawing from approaches established under the Convention and its related legal instruments as appropriate, guidance for accounting for Parties’ nationally determined contributions, as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 13, of the Agreement, for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement at its first session, which ensures that:

(a) Parties account for anthropogenic emissions and removals in accordance with methodologies and common metrics assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement;

(b) Parties ensure methodological consistency, including on baselines, between the communication and implementation of nationally determined contributions;

(c) Parties strive to include all categories of anthropogenic emissions or removals in their nationally determined contributions and, once a source, sink or activity is included, continue to include it;

(d) Parties shall provide an explanation of why any categories of anthropogenic emissions or removals are excluded;


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