Forest projects tilt towards carbon trade
When the Cancun climate summit began, experts predicted CoP 16 would finalise the agreement on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). But the outcome was different.
The text of the agreement merely asserts the role of developed countries in giving financial support to developing countries and limiting their activities which drive deforestation. It also lists a plan of action for countries to prepare themselves for the REDD plus regime, which include mapping of forests and calculating their carbon stock. But whether REDD+ would be a multilateral mechanism or would be implemented bilaterally between a developed and a developing country has not been decided yet.
In a marked departure from the Bali Action Plan of 2007 which viewed REDD playing a pivotal role in conserving forests, the new text sees forests as “mere carbon reservoirs (sinks) and is geared towards emission tradings,” said Friends of the Earth, an international network of non-profits fighting climate change.
The fear of generating “false credits” from REDD+ through monoculture plantations, agrofuel crops and industrial animal breeding remains.
A major failure of the Cancun text on REDD+ is that it does not address the rights of indigenous peoples and forest communities and a benefitsharing mechanism for them. These have been relegated to annexure 1 and merely mention “safeguards” for indigenous peoples should be “promoted and supported”. The UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is mentioned in the annexure but does not make it obligatory for governments to comply with it.
The text on REDD+ has many other gaps. There is no mandate for agencies at national and international levels to ensure the safeguards are observed. Countries like Brazil, Indonesia and China are using aid from European countries for REDD+ projects under bilateral agreements but there is no framework in place under which donor countries can track improvements in forest governance.