Progress in Climate Negotiations: REDD+ Finalized

After 10 years of negotiations, the United Nation’s (UN) Reducing carbon Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program was finalized late Tuesday at the UN Climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany. The REDD+ program represents the largest global political and financial collaboration to protect tropical forests for their role in mitigating climate change.

According to Woods Hole Research Center President and Executive Director, Philip Duffy, “This represents a significant milestone in the UN’s global climate negotiations. Now both developed and developing nations have agreed to a strategy to protect forests and slow climate change.”
Senior Scientist Richard Houghton has witnessed the transition of REDD from a program focused on eliminating emissions from deforestation to include the role of forests in mitigating climate change. “REDD has evolved considerably during the nearly 10 years of negotiations around it. In particular, the little “+” in REDD+ takes it from addressing 10-20% of the problem to being 50% of the solution – the other 50% being the transition from fossil to renewable forms of energy.”

Part of the UN climate negotiations, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), convened its 42nd session in Bonn. The role of SBSTA is to support the work of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP) by providing scientific and technological guidance and to make recommendations for adoption by the COP. This is where much of the negotiations occur in advance of the COP. This past Tuesday, agreement was reached on the final three points at issue: additional safeguards to protect developing countries, recognition of the many other benefits of forest conservation in addition to carbon storage, and the opportunity for alternative policy approaches such as a combined mitigation and adaptation approach.

Woods Hole Research Center has been involved in the development and formulation of what was to become REDD+ prior to the Bali Action Plan in 2007. Research Associate Carol Franco has been involved in the negotiations over the last several years, including the agreement on Tuesday. “We finally finished our deliberations on REDD+,” said Dr. Franco, “and were able to agree on the last three decisions pending. Now we can focus on implementation.”
The agreement will be presented at the plenary session in Bonn today.

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