Including Forest Protection in Carbon Markets Will Harm Emission Reduction Efforts, Greenpeace Report Warns

deforestation burma photo

photo: Isabel Esterman via flickr

It might seem counterintuitive, but a new report from Greenpeace warns that, though prevention of deforestation is crucial for mitigating climate change, preventing further loss of biodiversity, etc., if we include forest protection measures into international carbon markets it will depress the price of carbon by up to 75%, effectively halting the very thing international carbon markets are intended to do: Help drive investment into more environmentally friendly technologies and mitigate global climate change. Here's why:Deforestation Responsible for 20% of Global Emissions
If you include the trading of carbon credits earned from avoided deforestation schemes (known as REDD) into global carbon markets, since deforestation accounts for some 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the price of carbon could drop precipitously—anywhere from 60% if a lower supply of REDD credits are assumed to 75% at the high end.

Depressed Carbon Price Hurts Cleantech Investment
In either scenario, the effect would be reduced investment in clean and renewable technologies (both in the developed and developing world), a tendency for high-carbon infrastructures to become locked in for many years to come, and in some places less of a demand for credits generated by reducing emissions from industry and the energy sector. China is cited as an example where $10-100 billion annual cleantech investment could be lost.

We Must Protect Forests Separately From Carbon Markets
What to do? The answer according to Greenpeace is we should provide "sufficient and reliable financing" for REDD programs, work to make deep emissions reductions in industrialized nations and speed up investment in green technologies in developing nations. So, basically, REDD and global carbon markets can't be linked if we want either one to do what it is intended to do.

Greenpeace went on to outline what a successful REDD program should consist of:

  • Contain the goal of ending gross deforestation and associated emissions in all countries by 2020, and achieve zero deforestation in priority areas (such as the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and in Indonesia and the Archipelagos) by 2015.
  • Require national-level reductions in forest emissions in order to avoid the problem of leakage (i.e. deforestation shifting from one area to another), which would inevitably result from project-based (i.e. "subnational") approaces.
  • Allow for the broad participation of countries with tropical forests.
  • Benefit biodiversity protection consistent with international conventions and objectives to avoid perverse incentives and outcomes.
  • Fully respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and provide a forum where their issues may be raised.
  • Ensure that benefits are equitably shared among and within countries.
  • Provide for independent monitoring and verification of activities and results.

More from Greenpeace: Forest for Climate: Developing a hybrid approach for REDD
Cattle Pastures in Deforested Amazon Now the Size of Iceland
New Google Earth Layer Shows Global Deforestation
Indigenous Rights Crucial to Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation
Wealthy Countries Should Pay 'Rainforest Utility Bills' for Ecosystem Services Rendered: Prince Charles
Carbon Markets
Obama's Cap-and-Trade Would Generate $645 Billion in "Climate Revenue"
Climate Expert James Hansen Support Cap-and-Dividend System

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