What is REDD?
The United Nation’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) program is a collaboration between the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Environmental (UNEP) and Development (UNDP) programs. It aims to reduce loss of forest areas in developing countries because the destruction of the world’s rainforests is estimated to contribute 15 – 20 percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In theory REDD is a system to provide incentives for countries not to cut their forests. The incentive system is meant to reward poor nations for not cutting their trees. It means recognizing the functions of rain forests – capturing carbon, water storage, weather regulation and preserving biodiversity.
Back in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, the part rainforests play in carbon storage wasn’t recognized. Proposals to reduce emissions from deforestation were first introduced by the governments of Papua New Guinea in December 2005 at the COP11 talks in Canada. Since then promoters and enthusiasts of the REDD concept have come up with more than 30 models of how the program should work have.
For a more detailed discussion on the role of forests and the REDD program, you may click here.
Is REDD Really Green?
The REDD programs being implemented are largely donor driven. Although the REDD concept is yet to be formally adopted in a treaty by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), some rich countries such as Norway are pursuing it with full zeal at exploratory level. They hope that in the post Kyoto scenario after 2012, they will be able to formally introduce market mechanism into the REDD initiatives.
While the whole idea of rich countries helping poor countries to preserve their forests sounds good and benevolent, it does not address the basic issue – GHG emission by burning fossil fuel by the biggest polluters, mainly the US. At the same time, people well familiar with global warming issues and the format of REDD proposals stress that the REDD projects can easily degenerate into land grabs, displacement, conflict, corruption, impoverishment and cultural degradation.
Following are some typical objections to the REDD initiative as voiced across the world.