Governments unexpectedly signed off on plans for a United Nations-backed forest protection scheme at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings in Bonn, Germany, this week. The decision means that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) will likely form part of the pact expected to come out of the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to take place in Paris this December. This week’s important, and somewhat surprising, development injects optimism into that process.
The agreement, which comes after nearly 10 years of negotiations, means that all the technical and policy-related issues (e.g. safeguards, monitoring, verification) for REDD+ are settled.
While this is good news, there is still work to be done. Finances must be put in place through the Green Climate Fund, and a full agreement—one that must connect the dots to past REDD+ decisions—must be reached in Paris in December. Also, public funding will only be one source of payment for the carbon sequestered by forests. How carbon markets respond to these advances, especially after Paris, is critical.
Over the past decade, the voluntary carbon markets for REDD+ credits have tended to go up and down depending on the prospect of tougher, compliance rules. An agreement in Paris would likely send a stronger signal to existing and emerging carbon markets. Implementing REDD+ on the ground is not easy, as we’ve seen, but these advances are really positive and should provide assurances to countries and projects that have already committed to REDD+.