- Forests are important carbon sinks. Between 1990 and 2007, the world’s forests stored about 2.4 gigatonnes of carbon per year. Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2100 will not be possible without carbon sequestration by the forests. By 2050, the world would need to sequester and store 8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) annually on average.
- Realizing that forests have large mitigation impact on climate change, a global mechanism to tackle deforestation and forest degradation called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) was formalised in 2007 at the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP) on climate change.
- But according to a recently released policy brief by the Centre for Science and Environment, there is no convincing evidence to establish the contribution of REDD+ in halting or reversing global deforestation trends.
- The report of the Policy brief by the Centre for Science and Environment says, developing countries would need between the US $17 and $28 billion per year to reduce global emissions from deforestation by 50 percent between 2005 and 2030. The slowdown in political momentum in REDD+ and the global economic crisis have been held responsible for the poor quantum of REDD+ finance commitments post-2010.
Why India struggles to implement REDD+?
- Under its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, India proposes to create a carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030 through the forestry sector.
- To that end, initiatives like the Green India Mission have been proposed to increase forest cover by 5 million hectares.
- While the country formulated a Draft National REDD+ Policy detailing the objectives, it lacked clarity on how the programme will be implemented.
- Even before REDD+ can be implemented in India, the country needs to take corrective measures to prevent diversion of thousands of hectares of forests to development projects.
- Similarly, the REDD+ rules developed under UNFCCC are difficult to implement due to complex and diverse forest governance issues across countries.
- The UNFCCC does not have enough funds for REDD+. The Green Climate Fund, considered the most popular financing option, has also failed to mobilized money from developed countries.
- This has also affected the credibility of REDD+ under UNFCCC.
Key reforms needed in the REDD+ mechanism
- While the CSE policy brief argues that REDD+ can achieve synergy between climate change mitigation and equitable distribution of resources with forest-dwelling communities, it calls for “a bottom-up initiative owned largely by communities with technical and funding support from state/regional governments and national governments”.
- Besides developing safeguards against land grabbing and resource alienation, India needs to ensure that at least 70 per cent of the payments from carbon revenues should be made directly to forest users as cash transfer.
- REDD+, according to CSE, should not become a “mechanism to promote exclusionary conservation where protected areas and their buffer zones form the major chunk of the project area”.
- Instead, REDD+ project areas should be a healthy mix of smallholder farms and sustainably managed forest areas, preferably by communities.