REDD: TRADE EMISSIONS AND SAVE THE AMAZON?
Because deforestation of the tropics is responsible for 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions, it is the 2nd biggest driver of global climate change after fossil fuel combustion.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts deforestation could turn Amazonia into savannah by mid century.
Cutting down tropical forests spurs global climate change which induces drought which causes loss of tropical forests, a "vicious cycle" that could go so far there would be no recovery.
The way to stop deforestation of the tropics is very very simple: Make it more profitable for the countries with the forests to protect them than to cut them down.
Protecting forests via the sale of emissions credits generates revenues that can be spent building New Energy. New Energy production earns more credits to build more New Energy, completing a "virtuous cycle."
Enter REDD: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. It’s a new plan from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, administrators of developing world emissions credit plans. Details are not yet worked out.
The idea: Countries with tropical forests get credits for protecting them. They sell the credits to industrialized nations who need to generate emissions. The money would be used to build New Energy infrastructure.
Presently, credits are only available for reforestation, not for stopping deforestation. Why? Because it is too easy to abuse a system rewarding something that does NOT happen. But if REDD can get the details right, the world’s rainforests can become part of that virtuous cycle.
From Earth: The Sequel by Fred Krupp (President, Environmental Defense Fund) and Miriam Horn: “The total value of allowances traded in carbon markets worldwide (created in preparation for the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period, which begins in 2008) reached $30 billion in 2006. Eventually, the carbon market is expected to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. The potential of claiming even a small fraction of this market would be a powerful incentive to preserve forests.”
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Carbon credits could help save Amazon, blunt warning: study
Marlowe Hood, April 6, 2008 (AFP via Yahoo News)
The Royal Society in Britain; Richard Betts, Met Hadley Center for climate prediction; Joahnnes Ebeling, EcoSecurities, and Mai Yasue, University of British Columbia;
Many experts contend REDD will keep green from becoming brown. (click to enlarge)
Biodiversity-climate interactions: adaptation, mitigation and human livelihoods, a
Royal Society publication summarizing future developments in the Amazon and other rainforest regions. It documents the danger of deforestation, the potential for emissions trading markets to protect the forests and enormous wealth potential in such markets. It highlights the UNFCCC REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) solution.
- Paper published February 2008
- REDD was the outgrowth of the December 2007 Bali climate change conference.
- To 2001: 13% of the original Amazon rainforests were lost, 80% of that in Brazil.
- 2004: the year of greatest deforestation in Brazil.
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Deforestation of the tropics is responsible for 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions. Almost half of that activity is in Amazonia.
- Cutting deforestation 10% is calculated to generate 1.5 to 9.1 billion euros (2.2 to 13.5 billion dollars) in emissions trading credit revenues for the forested countries. Cutting back another 20% would generate 45 billion dollars (assuming credits to be E30/tonne of emissions).
- Problems with REDD: (1) Rewarding deforestation that does not happen when, in fact, it was never going to happen. (2) Data can be manipulated. (3) Money available for the purchase of credits may provoke bad actors to take possession of forests at the expense of indigenous peoples. (3) The purchase of credits shifts wealth to poor countries that may not use it for long term benefits.
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- Richard Betts, Britain’s Met Hadley Center for climate prediction: "The ongoing degradation of Amazonia is a threat to local climate stability and a contributor to the global atmospheric climate change crisis…"
- Ebeling and Yassue, on REDD: "Tropical deforestation not only contributes to climate change but is also regarded as the single greatest threat to terrestrial biodiversity…There is also widespread hopes…that REDD will provide resources for human development and poverty relief."