REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation is a very controversial measure. Environmentalists don’t seem to agree if it’s a good idea due to its lack of clarity.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is more than the entire global transportation sector combined.
Rainforests provide essential ecosystem services; they absorb CO2, release oxygen, regulate global rain and humidity patterns and are home to most plants and animal species in the planet.
Therefore what REDD stands for is in theory wonderful. Reducing deforestation is key in order to fight global warming.
REDD’s basic premise is that if industries in developed nations want to continue releasing large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere they would have to pay for parts of tropical rainforest or rainforest “regeneration projects” in other parts of the world such as Brazil or Indonesia.
REDD is presented as an “offset” scheme of the carbon market and will produce carbon credits. Carbon offsets are “emissions-saving projects” that in theory compensate for the polluters’ emissions.
REDD detractors state that offsets allow polluting governments and corporations -which have the historical responsibility to clean up the atmosphere- to buy their way out of the problem with cheap projects that exacerbate social and environmental conflicts in the South.
Other major concerns in the REED program are the lack of agreement on the definition of forest degradation, the specific factors causing deforestation, or the funding sources and administrators.
Most local NGO’s agree that indigenous people or local organizations should be the ones involved in forest regeneration projects instead of foreign organizations or centralized governments who are often out of touch or easily corrupted.
According to Greenpeace Forest campaigner ” The market oriented draft, which focuses more on investment rather that reducing deforestation, only benefits big companies which huge emissions”.
Greenpeace also explains that from an environmental perspective, REDD will not save the climate nor protect forests, nor will it stop dangerous emissions levels. In fact, they state that REDD will offer polluting industries a way to avoid emissions reduction through cheap offsets and allow them to actually increase pollution.
Jane Goodall is among one of the REDD supporters, and she believes REDD is a great idea because saving parts of rainforests will be able to promote conservation and biodiversity.
Many argue that she is just “desperate” and “naive” to think that REDD will work to save large areas of rainforests or promote forest regeneration in a sustainable and effective manner.
REDD could in fact be a wonderful measure. But all players need to agree on basic principles. Also funding sources and administration must be open.
REDD should never be used as a cheap way to pay off extra CO2 emissions. Fines should be much higher for corporations who pollute more than established. The fine money could in turn be used to buy land to be kept untouched by developers, or to promote sustainable forest regeneration projects where indigenous people should be heavily involved.