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Tropical Forest Outcomes at the Cancún Climate Conference

During the 2010 meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancún, the countries of the world fell short of creating a legally binding agreement to reduce global warming emissions; however they did decide on some important steps towards working together towards this goal.

Tropical forests were a big winner in the Cancún Agreements. Countries agreed to implement a set of policies known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus Related Pro-forest Activities) to work towards conservation of these ecosystems. This agreement could lead to significant reductions in deforestation. 
Here’s why UCS is excited about the new international REDD+ agreement and its potential to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation:

  • It establishes that the goal of REDD+ is to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions and increasing sequestration from tropical forests and that all the appropriate activities to achieve this goal will be included. Check out The Plus Side, a UCS report that was released in Cancún, for more details on the sequestration activities.
  • It urges all countries to address the drivers of deforestation. We know that large agribusiness is increasingly the reason that we're losing forests in the tropics, which is the result of a global demand on soy, timber, beef, and palm oil.  Therefore, all countries need to work together to determine how international policies can help reduce pressure on tropical forests. Read more about the drivers of deforestation in a new fact sheet that UCS released at the Cancún meeting.
  • It establishes appropriate boundaries that will allow the technical committee of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish strong rules on setting baselines and measuring emissions.
  • It allows for REDD+ to be paid for in many different ways, and includes phases that countries will work through towards ultimately being paid directly for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions they avoid or sequester.
  • It requires countries to adhere to safeguards on human rights, community participation, and protection of biological diversity. For example, there is a specific provision to ensure that REDD+ funding is not applied to areas that are being converted from natural forests to forest plantations.

“The real bright spot [in Cancún] was moving forward with REDD+, the program to eliminate tropical deforestation as a major driver of climate change,” said Doug Boucher, UCS's director of climate research and analysis. “Historic changes are happening in conference halls and in the Amazon that can end tropical deforestation in our lifetime.”


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