News / Africa

Seeing REDD: Forest Program May Be Only Success of Climate Talks

Protesters shout during a climate change rally outside the climate change summit held in the city of Durban, South Africa, December 2, 2011.
Protesters shout during a climate change rally outside the climate change summit held in the city of Durban, South Africa, December 2, 2011.
Gabe Joselow

The headlines from the COP17 U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa have mostly underscored the deadlock on major initiatives.  But there has been progress on a forestry program known as REDD+. If an agreement on the program is reached it could be one of the few success stories to emerge.

The acronym stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

The basic theory behind the strategy is forests should be worth more when they are standing then when they are cut down.

To accomplish this goal, the REDD mechanism provides a financial value for the carbon stored in the trees.  Developed countries can then invest in standing forests in developing countries to offset their own carbon emissions.

“If you can pay local communities, provide incentives, government programs for local communities to be able to keep the forests standing and still make a good livelihood off the land, but in a way that does not require them to cut the trees down, then you have a win for biodiversity, you have a win for those local communities, and you have a win for the climate," said Rane Cortez, a REDD+ advisor for the environmental group The Nature Conservancy, who works on a REDD project in Brazil.

The Nature Conservancy began working on REDD projects in the early 1990s in Latin America.  Other projects have also cropped up in Asia and Africa.  These projects are all based on bilateral or multilateral agreements between governments and donors, and the terms of each project vary case-by-case.

But delegates at the last U.N. climate conference in Cancun, Mexico agreed to universalize the system, establishing international safeguards and accountability measures.

Nature Conservancy climate change managing director Sarene Marshall says REDD+ is one of the few things delegates at COP17 can agree on.

“There has really been near unanimity on the issue, generally speaking," said Marshall. "Countries ranging from rainforest nations to developed countries have seen how important it is to address the forest side of emissions and to protect forests for their climate benefits and other things."

But the program is not without its detractors.  A group that says it represents indigenous people around the world protested this week outside the Durban conference center, calling for a moratorium on REDD.

Indigenous Environmental Network director Tom Goldtooth says you cannot put a price on trees and earth and to create a market for nature.

“The very concept, from the indigenous perspective, it is a violation of the sacred," said Goldtooth. "What kind of people involve themselves in trading air?  How do we even translate that from the deepest of our heart, to be trading air as property?"

Among the safeguards included in the draft text establishing REDD+ are protections for indigenous people.

But members of the group do not think they can trust the governments to fairly implement the programs. Kimaiyo Towett is from the Ogiek community in Kenya's Rift Valley.

“These governments are the ones that are negotiating REDD, they are already the ones preparing the proposals, negotiating with the World Bank, sending the proposal, receiving the money," said Towett. "It is the very same government now which will get a proper excuse for removing us from the forest to pave way for this program."

REDD+ remains an experiment. Even with an agreement, the architects of the program will meet regularly to adjust the terms of the program.

And while it may not be perfect, progress on REDD+ may be the biggest achievement of COP17.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid