UN climate talks in Doha should give REDD+ the green light

By Tierney Smith 

The REDD+ mechanism cannot become a reality unless the next round of UN climate talks set a path towards creating a market for carbon credits from forests.

That’s the view of Tim Christopherson from the UN REDD programme, who has warned that governments must send the right signals in Qatar to give investors confidence.

“It would be very useful that [there be] some form of starting signal that financial transactions between developed and developing countries can now take place on a pilot and demonstration level, so we can see where this leads, so that the early movers can move,” he told RTCC.

“Of course this should be in line with all of the safeguards we now have from Cancun [COP16] and in line with all the experience we have already made in the UN REDD programme and other pilot demonstration activities.”

REDD+ aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation by offering financial incentives to developing countries to protect their tropical forests. The scheme has also been widened to include conservation, sustainable forest management and restoration.

Christopherson said a series of safeguards – discussed both under the UN climate convention and the summit on biodiversity – aim to ensure indigenous communities are involved in the scheme and that REDD+ projects are carried out in line with environmental integrity and do not lead to activities such as land grabs.

This will in turn ensure these communities can receive multiple benefits from the REDD+ scheme including ecosystem services, climate adaptation, livelihoods, food and cultural identity. One of the major challenges facing REDD+ still remains the complexity of the scheme and Christopherson said it must be broken down.

“REDD is a complex idea and you have to simplify it,” he said. “Taking something you can not touch, feel or see – carbon – and make a market where some people buy carbon and others sell it is an abstract idea. What it boils down to is we have to save tropical forests, where most of the greenhouse gas emissions from forestry occur. The more you go to the ground level, the more concrete the activities become.”

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