World Leaders Must Deliver Strong Goals and Money to Make REDD Happen

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World Leaders Must Deliver Strong Goals and Money to Make REDD Happen

COPENHAGEN - Funding and targets absent as REDD text moves to ministerial level

Copenhagen - As REDD negotiating text goes to ministers this morning at the Copenhagen climate change talks, two outcomes are possible with several pivotal issues undecided. An agreement to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) could be the strongest global measure ever enacted to protect the world's forests or a deal to incentivize their destruction.

"Time is running out for the world's forests, said Lars Lovold of Rainforest Foundation Norway. "The spotlight is now on politicians to build an alternative economic pathway to a future that includes standing natural forests and a stable climate."

Compromise text proposed by the REDD working group chair released late last evening contains some of the strongest provisions seen in the past two weeks, but four vital issues remain unresolved:

Financing: Countries must follow Norway's example and commit to adequate and sustainable funding for REDD start-up activities.

"We can't run REDD on an honor code," said Dr. Rosalind Reeve of Global Witness. "Developed countries must kick-start this process and put money on the table now."

Lack of quantitative goals: Mid- and long-term targets to reduce and halt deforestation and forest degradation must be defined.

"We're losing an acre of rainforest each second," said Alistair Graham of Humane Society International. "For countries to take REDD seriously, we need to halt emissions, retain forest carbon stocks and end gross deforestation by 2020."

Implement safeguards: Safeguards must be monitored and reported to ensure that indigenous peoples' rights and forests are protected and forest governance is transparent and effective.

"Implementation of the safeguards is absolutely crucial to ensure the long-term protection of the world's rainforests," said Virginia Young of the Wilderness Society.

Avoid leakage: Text must remove references to "subnational" strategies where countries could receive REDD funds for avoiding deforestation in one region while logging in another, failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to protect forests.

"REDD rules must not create a loophole that allows countries to be paid for reducing emissions in one place whilst destroying ecosystems somewhere else," said Susanna Tol of Wetlands International.

REDD monies are projected to help developing countries protect their remaining forests and reduce the approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation, forest degradation and peat soil destruction. Estimated sums required to implement REDD are €15-25 billion from 2010-15 to support preparatory activities, although some challenge that figure as far too low.

Targets for deforestation, which have disappeared in the text sent to ministers, aimed to cut deforestation by 50 percent by 2020 and eliminate it by 2030 in previous text seen this week.

The text for the first time provides provisions to account for the protection and restoration of all carbon stocks including peat soils which account for six percent of all global C02 emissions. It still lacks language requiring all parties, not just developing countries, to address the social and economic forces driving international demand for products which results in deforestation.

No matter what the shape of the final deal is, however, REDD must go hand in hand with deep cuts in industrial emissions if the world's tropical forests have any chance of surviving climate change.

"What good is icing without the cake?" said Bill Barclay of Rainforest Action Network. "If we are really serious about protecting forests and reducing emissions from deforestation, REDD must be part of a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate agreement."

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Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquarted in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime, and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.  

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