WARSAW (November 20, 2013) – In the midst of conversations about climate finance at the U.N. negotiations in Warsaw, developed countries today announced a new initiative for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus pro-forest activities (REDD+) program on the scale of $290 million. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, developed countries must provide much needed support for this highly effective emissions reduction program, but today’s announcement only indicates budding political will from developed countries for addressing climate change.
“REDD+ needs more funding than what Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States pledged today. The developed world must get serious about financing emissions reductions from forests,” said Pipa Elias, REDD+ expert for UCS. “The pledges might seem like a pittance compared to the approximately $20-$35 billion each year we need for a global REDD+ program. And in some ways it is and in other ways, this is progress.”
The new initiative, the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes, a World Bank program, will allocate money through a variety of incentives, with further support from the private sector. As private sector industries, like palm oil, beef, paper and timber, are primarily responsible for deforestation, including them in this incentive will further increase the effectiveness of REDD+. In addition to this initiative, Norway and the United Kingdom pledged funding matching their current REDD+ funding levels, and Germany will contribute another €12 million (about $16 million) on top of their current pledges.
“The pledges are not as much as expected, and that will hinder the potential emissions reductions from REDD+. But the news isn’t all bad. There are bright spots in the negotiation’s process that offer area for hope,” said Elias. “We have got to take what we can get, improve the overall REDD+ package, and push for more.”
REDD+ policies help developing countries reduce emissions from deforestation through financial incentives provided by developed countries. The initial pledges made at the 2009 Copenhagen talks offered funding to kick start REDD+ in developing countries. Today’s pledges will help some countries step up by piloting state-and-province level programs and provide compensation for their emissions reductions. Separate from today’s initiative, Norway also announced an addition $100 million to help developing countries still in the earliest stages of REDD+ program development.
As countries are making these pledges, negotiators are simultaneously discussing long-term financing options. By the end of the week, REDD+ negotiators must agree on a finance decision as well as the technical requirements for how to prove forest emissions reductions. The technical requirements were decided last week in Warsaw, but needs to be coupled with the finance decision before it can be rubber stamped. These technical discussions are important because they can be viewed as a test run for the larger climate agreement expected from in 2015 in Paris. In these REDD+ talks, countries found consensus on technical, highly political issues that will also need to be discussed as part of the Paris agreement.
“If negotiators fail to find agreement on either the finance decision or the technical requirements in Warsaw, neither decision will pass. However, if they finalize and agree to both decisions, it will tell developing countries, if you take certain steps and meet the technical requirements, there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” said Elias. “REDD+ could truly be a breakthrough not only because it could mark progress on emissions reductions, but also because it would indicate that U.N climate negotiations work.”