Forest and Climate Policy

Most people are not surprised to learn that China and the United States are the two largest greenhouse gas emitting countries in the world – but the third and fourth largest emitters are not industrialized, Global North nations: they are Indonesia and Brazil, respectively. But whereas China and U.S. emissions stem from burning fossil fuels, about three quarters of the national emissions in Indonesia and Brazil are from destruction of their rainforests each year. In fact, tropical forest destruction is now responsible for approximately one-fifth of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Protecting these forests, while also reducing fossil fuel emissions, is critical in order to stabilize the climate, preserve global biodiversity, sustain the global economy and protect the livelihoods of billions of people.

If done well, actions for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, also known as REDD, will ensure strengthened protection for forests, defense of the rights of indigenous peoples that are their customary inhabitants, and will address underlying causes that drive deforestation. If done wrong, REDD has the potential to be a monumental problem for communities across the tropical world. REDD could mean another opportunity for rich companies and countries to profit off the forest, while the people who live in the forests are pushed off the land — not receiving any of the profit being made off of forest conservation.

REDD is currently only a small part of the global market for carbon and REDD carbon credits are predominantly sold to companies and people who are interested in reducing their emissions voluntarily. This scenario may change, and will likely change, as international agreements on climate change (lead by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) are renegotiated. This scenario will also provide a much larger market for REDD credits, and will dramatically increase REDD’s impact in the forests of Borneo. Before these agreements are set it stone however, it is vital that the rights of communities to their land, and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) are enshrined in any agreement that is reached. [Much of the language in this section is from RAN’s REDD Factsheet, see below].

Here are some of the position pieces from our friends and allies:

REDD Monitor: Introduction to REDD

Rainforest Action Network: REDD factsheet

Carbon Trade Watch: No REDD Reader (with an article by project director Jettie Word)

Global Justice Ecology Project: Why REDD is Wrong (co-authored by Jettie Word)

Indigenous Environmental Network: Reaping Profits from Evictions, Land Grabs, Deforestation, and the Destruction of Biodiversity