In Bali, new incentive for developing nations to curb emissions
Forest-preservation pledges of $166 million this week could entice them to take part in a post-Kyoto climate deal.
Nusa Dua, Indonesia
Efforts to map the way to a post-Kyoto climate treaty have sailed into rough water this week. But amid the turbulence, a key climate initiative is gathering momentum.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Dubbed REDD, it would reward nations for keeping chain saws out of threatened tropical forests, serving as a powerful magnet that could pull several developing countries with significant emissions into a new global-warming pact.
Deforestation accounts for roughly 20 percent of the greenhouse gases that human activities pump into the atmosphere. This means "REDD is going to be a critical element of a global deal" on climate for 2013 and beyond, says Andrew Deutz, senior policy adviser for the Nature Conservancy.
This week, the World Bank pledged $160 million for pilot projects to test the idea, with Norway chipping in an additional $5 million. In response, some 30 developing nations expressed strong interest in the idea, first proposed by Costa Rica and Papua-New Guinea at the 2005 UN climate talks in Montreal. Even the US-based Nature Conservancy – a group that typically finds itself asking others for cash – has ponied up $1 million toward the effort.
REDD, shorthand for "reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation," is a triple winner, explains the organization's Dr. Deutz. Developing countries would set targets for avoided deforestation and earn carbon credits for beating those targets, but would incur no penalty if they fall short of their goals. Those credits would be in demand among industrial countries as a relatively cheap way for them to meet more-stringent emissions reduction goals. And the move could protect biodiversity and preserve the critical services healthy forests provide.
The bottom line: Developing countries could pocket from $2.3 billion to $23 billion a year from avoiding deforestation under REDD, according to Frances Seymour, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Jakarta, Indonesia. The range reflects different assumptions about the price of carbon on international markets and on the expanse of forest involved. And as talks on crafting a framework for negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol wind down here, REDD looks as though it will be incorporated into that framework, analysts here say.
Tough negotiations in Bali
Efforts to craft such a post-Kyoto road map grew testy on Thursday after the European Union threatened to boycott a US summit of major emitters next month. The EU perceives the meeting, as well as US balking here in Bali, as efforts to dilute or derail the UN process. The highest-profile issue has been a reference that cites scientists' projection that to hold global warming to about 3.6 degrees F., global emissions must fall from 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels. EU leaders are baffled and angry that the wording, which the White House didn't object to in a pre-Bali agreement, suddenly has become an apparent deal breaker for the US.
Including the 25-to-40 percent range would signal that industrial countries remain serious about making further emissions cuts – a key factor in getting developing countries to agree to take part in a post-Kyoto deal.
While REDD has also been championed as a way to get developing nations on board, the idea has its critics. Groups championing indigenous people's rights say they doubt that many if any of the benefits from REDD would trickle down to the people who need it most. And it could trigger land grabs by individuals or companies who want to cash in on REDD's credits.
Others, such as Marina Silva, Brazil's environment minister, argue that the use of credits in conjunction with REDD would allow industrial countries to duck their responsibility for reducing their own emissions.