Forests and climate: Presentations
This seminar held in May 2016 brought key scientists together with environmental, development and human rights NGOs to understand the Paris Agreement’s implications for forests and land use. A final report of the meeting gives an overview of discussions and presentations given.
After presentations and discussions, participants agreed on the following priorities:
- Urgent need to reduce emissions
- Urgent need to increase carbon sequestration in land and forests
- Forests and land do not offset fossil fuel emissions
- Redefine ‘negative emissions’
It is not that easy to get to grips with Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) or carbon trading without some prior knowledge; the fairly complex ideas are usually shrouded in even more complex technical language and jargon. This series of six training presentations is designed to give an accessible overview to some of the key concepts behind international discussions on carbon trading, REDD and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Although each presentation can be viewed alone, the entire course should give anyone a good overall understanding of the issues, and it is hoped that it will be particularly useful for community groups and local NGOs faced with engaging in REDD or forest governance schemes. The course was funded by the Congo Basin Forest Fund and has been translated into French and Spanish.
1. What is Climate Change?
The first part of the course, ‘What is climate change?’ sets out the problem that REDD and carbon trading are supposed to address. It explains the role of carbon and fossil fuel emissions in climate change, making it clear that reducing deforestation will not solve the problems.
2. What is REDD?
Having debunked the idea that avoiding deforestation will solve climate change, the second presentation begins by highlighting the very important benefits that will come from tackling rampant deforestation. The major international proposal to tackle deforestation is REDD, and this module covers the fundamental problems identified with the REDD right from the start. We also introduce REDD+, touching on the need for safeguards to protect communities.
3. What is Carbon Trading?
The concept of Cap and Trade as a means to efficiently reduce carbon emissions is explored here, with a nod to the EU Emissions Trading System, the first only up and running cap and trade scheme (others are now running in New Zealand and Eastern States of the USA). Carbon offsets are introduced, highlighting some of the key difficulties and making it clear that offsets are, at best, benign and at worst undermine the entire cap and trade system. Forest carbon offsets are picked out as particularly problematic.
4. Role of forests in climate change?
Module four takes a more detailed look at the role of forests in climate change mitigation activities. Addressing one of the major issues within REDD – who is going to pay for it – this module draws together information from the previous two presentations to show that REDD is intimately tied up with carbon trading. With this in mind, we explore some of the key problems encountered by the existing voluntary carbon market.
5. REDD+ and communities
Beginning with clarification on what is generally meant by rightsholders and stakeholders, this section focuses on the role of communities in tackling deforestation. Key concepts including good governance and free prior informed consent (FPIC) are introduced as necessary factors in any attempt to tackle deforestation.
6. Lessons from FLEGT for REDD
The final section of this course introduces the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreements. This programme to improve forest governance has some real lessons to offer any future REDD scheme, in that it aims to tackle the key causes of deforestation by involving stakeholders, encouraging transparency and building the capacity of local communities. We conclude with a reminder that neither REDD nor FLEGT address the single most important factor in deforestation – demand for forest and agricultural products. This final module also includes a recap of the entire course.