Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Incentives for not cutting trees: REDD and REDD+

REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.

The system works as follows:

The carbon stored in standing trees in a country is estimated.
Carbon losses from continued "business as usual"  deforestation and forest degradation are also estimated.
The country undergoes conservation activities to reduce deforestation below the projected BAU level.
The carbon "saved" via conservation activities is credited to the country and made available for sale in international carbon markets.
(Developed) countries (or states) that face carbon reduction requirements can reduce their own emissions and/or purchase credits on the international market.

This provides a monetary incentive to preserve standing forests when the profit that can be earned by selling carbon credits exceeds the profit that can be earned from various forms of development that require deforestation.

Sounds good. The skewed intertemporal and international distribution of costs and benefits are a big reason for tropical deforestation. If developed countries buy carbon credits from developing nations, forests are preserved for future generations.  Obviously there are a lot of complications and concerns. This will be true for any policy.

Read more about the basics of REDD and REDD+ here at the UN
FAQs here
Some cool videos here.

Are there problems and unintended consequences? Yes, of course.

Read more here and here.

Can these problems be overcome?

P.S. I have a former student who is working on this REDD project


Nick McLoota said...

I was reading an article:

And it states, ""On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four."
- Environment Canada, Canada's national environmental agency"

What if we charged households for the conservation of trees?
I'm sure not many people would be opposed and maybe they could recieve a tax return or subsidy if a family plants more than 2-4 trees; depending on how many people are in each family.
Just a thought...

Shayvonne Moxey-Bonamy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shayvonne Moxey-Bonamy said...

The REDD and REDD+ to protect forest is good for climate change in helping to reduce carbon emission by discouraging deforestation. However, the article from the scientist that speak to protecting some forest that are high carbon absorbers and paying less attention to those that may not have as much but is rich in diversification cannot be ignored.

Additionally, in developing countries forest wood is used for fuel and logging is a means of income. Thus community interest must be consider in the equation. Although, on the other hand, flooding and water quality degradation may be exacerbated which leads to more problems.

Kerriann Jessamy said...

I found this article interesting and I think it good for reducing carbon emissions but what about developing countries which are small with a growing population? What is the impact on these countries?

Dr. Peter Schuhmann said...

Nick - I like the idea of providing incentives (subsidies) for planting. These could vary by species, depending on the ecosystem services provided. The tree valuation tool gives us some idea of how this might work.

Shayvonne has some good points regarding carbon services vs. other services provided by forest systems. I think a holistic view is appropriate, but as of now, it is the carbon service that is marketable.

As for Keriann's question, there is no reason why a small country can't participate in the carbon market. If they can make more for selling carbon credits than from deforestation, then they will have an incentive to participate. The proceeds can be used purchase goods and services that would otherwise be provided via deforestation. What is the concern?

Kerriann Jessamy said...

From that aspect of making more from selling carbon credits, yes, but if they are not then they wouldn't want to stop cutting down their forests. The benefits would have to be substantial.