Almost eight years after the idea was first mooted, climate change negotiators have thrashed out an agreement of a deal to channelise funds – necessarily for developing countries – to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests.
The agreement on what is popularly called the REDD+ initiative – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – now comes with the backing of pledges of $280 million in financing from the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom. The decision to establish the rules for this mechanism was taken late last night at the Conference of Parties (COP19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
India is not a beneficiary country, but neighbouring Bangladesh is a partner country to the United Nations REDD programme.
Countries have been discussing the mechanism – earlier it was REDD – since 2005. The forests play a central role as carbon sinks, climate stabilizers and biodiversity havens and forest fires and deforestation continue to have destructive impact on people and economies year after year.
COP president Marcin Korolec said, “Through our negotiations, we have made a significant contribution to forest preservation and sustainable use which will benefit the people who live in and around them.”
Developing countries clear large tracts of forests for agriculture activity, for instance palm-oil production – basically source of livelihood – which, according to WWF, causes 15 % of global emissions.
According to the FAO (2005), deforestation, mainly conversion of forests to agricultural land, continues at an alarming rate of approximately 13 million hectares per year (as per data for the period 1990–2005). Deforestation results in immediate release of the carbon originally stored in the trees as CO2 emissions, particularly if the trees are burned and also from the slower release of emissions from the decay of organic matter.
Scientists have claimed that reducing and/or preventing deforestation is the mitigation option with the largest and most immediate carbon stock impact in the short term per hectare and per year globally as the release of carbon as emissions into the atmosphere is prevented.