Tree Talks: Bonn talks end with agreement on REDD+

As the preliminary climate talks in Bonn, Germany wrapped up last week, participants finally came to an agreement regarding the acceptance of the most progressive policy initiatives on forests to date. The United Nation’s program, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), an effort to mitigate deforestation and cut greenhouse gas emissions especially in developing countries, has finally been fully accepted by participating nations. Currently, forestry is the second largest contributor of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a necessary issue to sort out amongst global warming concerns.

Delegates in Bonn rounded out requirements in REDD+ regarding additional safeguards, non-market-based approaches, and non-carbon benefits. The hope is that the program will ensure the rights of indigenous people and nations concerning protection of native forests and natural habitats through additional funding from sources like the World Bank’s carbon fund. This resolution is a huge surprise to all that are involved, as the REDD+ program has been on the table for the last ten years. The unpredicted premature wrap up of this debate means that further discussion about the reduction of carbon emissions from deforestation during the December COP21 conference in Paris can dive right into the on-the-ground implementation methods and policies, good news for environmentalists and leaders who were concerned that REDD+ would still be unsettled going into the final meeting. Hopefully this savings of six months will have a positive long-term impact on improving and prolonging the health of the environment.

Now finally, forest conservation and its relation to reducing carbon emissions seem to be receiving the attention it deserves from influential world leaders and figures.  However, despite such an impressively speedy settlement, the concern is whether or not the policy will succeed in practice. REDD+ will require a hefty amount of funding and some fear its implementation will not do enough to protect the rights of local communities, financially and legally. You can read the full Framework Document here.

Molly Pfeffer, Intern