REDD Copenhagen Countdown – North-South Agreement in Place, Immediate Need for Countries’ Financial Commitment & Higher Targets

Federica Bietta – September 26, 2009

Retrieved from photo: tommorphy via flickr.

The UN Summit on Climate Change, convened this week in New York by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, brought together more than 100 heads of state and dignitaries to tackle the urgent need for action and to mobilize real momentum and actionable commitment among the highest level of power brokers to reach a fair and effective global climate deal at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

Leaders of developed and developing countries including Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea, President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil participated in substantive talks on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), the keystone post-Kyoto protocol that may very well be the best solution for incentivizing rich and poor countries to leave living trees standing:

What exactly is REDD?
REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (in developing countries). It’s an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. If the carbon can be kept in the forests and not released into the atmosphere (by way of fire, land conversion, biomass decay or soil disturbance), it will make a significant contribution to avoiding dangerous climate change (i.e. less emissions). The value of these ‘reduced emissions’ could be realized through carbon markets or a carbon fund (collectively called a ‘REDD mechanism’).
As part of the week’s events the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) coordinated a REDD meeting hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and in cooperation with the UN-REDD Programme and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank. We heard strong statements of support for REDD from leaders of Australia, Republic of Congo, Guyana, Norway, Papua New Guinea, and Sweden. Equally encouraging was a strong endorsement from World Bank President Robert Zoellick for immediate REDD funding and implementation.

Speaking on behalf of the rainforest nations, President Jagdeo and Prime Minister Somare highlighted the Coalition’s willingness to reduce the global rate of deforestation of 25% by 2015 if financial resources are made available by developed countries.

Although the robust statements of support from the handful of countries were certainly well received by the Coalition, no specific financial commitment was made by developed countries. Equally disappointing was that the United States seat remained empty at this significant REDD event.

While these were not formal negotiating sessions, we’re leveraging the outcome of the week’s events as a platform upon which to advance the dialogue on REDD as we head to climate talks in Bangkok, September 28-October 9, Barcelona, November 2-6 and culminating in Copenhagen.

The conversations about REDD underscore a monumental step forward with an unprecedented North-South agreement on a topic and issue of massive significance to the global community. However much progress has been made, there’s still much to be done.

Chief among them are:

  • The immediate need for countries to pony up the money–somewhere in the area of $15-25 billion for reducing 25% global deforestation by 2015 (cumulatively) to make REDD a reality.
  • Target increase from to 45% by 2020 and then 90% before 2050%.