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Forest carbon scheme faces difficult hurdles.

Negotiators at last December's Copenhagen climate summit agreed on the "immediate" need to sequester more greenhouse gases in forests through a mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD. The nonbinding Copenhagen Accord was the first international pact to recommend that financial resources support the approach, and countries pledged some US$3.5 billion in funding.

REDD is considered a relatively affordable emission-reduction strategy that could also protect tropical ecosystems and support rural communities. But analysts warn that without proper reforms, the approach threatens to increase human rights violations, land conflicts, and forest-sector corruption, weakening its ability to reduce emissions.


Under REDD, forested countries would receive funding to limit deforestation, boost afforestation, and minimize carbon loss through forestry activities. Yet in many countries land ownership remains unclear, and campaigners worry that governments or private industry may displace forest communities to gain access to forest carbon. "REDD can be set up right to protect the people of the forest. It can also be set up to destroy them," observed WWF President Carter Roberts in Copenhagen.

Many countries also lack the expertise to measure and monitor stored carbon. Only six developing countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Singapore, and South Korea) have institutions with trained forest carbon experts connected to the UN system, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, while 94 have absolutely no technical or institutional capacity for REDD.

Corruption is a concern as well. According to the World Bank, 30 of the 37 countries participating in the Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility rank among the 106 "worst-governed." Experts say illegal logging could be curtailed if REDD payments help to develop independent forest monitoring systems.

by Ben Block

(unless otherwise credited)

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Title Annotation:EYE ON EARTH
Author:Block, Ben
Publication:World Watch
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2010
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