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As part of its initiative on Tropical Forests for Climate and Development, the Center for Global Development is producing a book entitled Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. Co-authored by senior fellow Frances Seymour and research fellow Jonah Busch, the book will make the case that tropical forests are essential for both climate stability and sustainable development, that now is the time for action on tropical forests, and that payment-for-performance finance for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) represents a course of action with great potential for success.
Why Forests? Why Now? will draw on original research, synthetic reviews, and national case studies supported by commissioned background papers and CGD’s own research. The content will cover the science, economics, and politics of forest conservation and finance to underscore the urgency, affordability, and feasibility of scaling up funding for reducing deforestation, particularly through performance-based approaches.
The Science – deforestation as a source of climate emissions, development benefits provided by intact forests, and advances in forest monitoring technologies;
The Economics – the affordability of mitigating forest-based emissions compared to other options, contributions of forests to developing economies, and what is known about what drives deforestation and how to stop it.
The Politics – the politics of international cooperation to reduce tropical deforestation, with a particular focus on constituencies for performance-based finance in relevant policy arenas at the international level, within selected rich countries, and within forest countries.
The publication of Why Forests? Why Now? is set for December 2016. This research supports the activities of a CGD Working Group to identify practical ways to accelerate performance-based finance for tropical forests.
Click here for a list of all papers in the series.
The Paris agreement validates performance-based payments for protecting forests as a key climate protection strategy.
If deforestation were a country, it would rank as the third-highest source of greenhouse gas emissions, greater than those of the European Union. And if deforestation were halted and damaged forests allowed to grow back, the combination of avoided emissions and additional carbon storage in forest vegetation would be equivalent to up to one third of current global emissions from all sources.
Over the last decade, climate negotiators have painstakingly negotiated an approach to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (so-called “REDD+”) in which rich countries provide financial reward to developing countries for conserving their forests on a pay-for-performance basis. The Paris agreement explicitly endorses this approach.
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“There really is something special about indigenous people’s management of forests,” agrees Jonah Busch, an economist at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the analysis. In a 2014 meta-analysis of more than 100 peer-reviewed studies, he and a colleague found that indigenous-managed forests are significantly less likely than the average tropical forest to be deforested. Busch notes, however, that few studies have directly investigated the effect of land title and tenure policies on carbon storage.
Such knowledge gaps have led some to question whether data support indigenous communities’ claims to be better forest carbon stewards than outsiders, and whether paying indigenous groups to preserve forests would in fact help curb emissions.
Read full article here.
The climate agreement from Paris is far-reaching in its implications. The countries of the world have just stated their collective aim for global greenhouse gas emissions
to peak as soon as possible, decline rapidly, and reach near-zero in the second half of the century. Two hundred governments have just sent a powerful
signal that the future they want is low-carbon: energy without fossil fuels; agriculture without deforestation.
When Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) meets with President Obama on October 26, climate change will certainly be on the agenda, with the Paris 2015 summit only a month away. Obama should use the opportunity to praise and offer support for the steps Jokowi announced earlier today to address the underlying causes of fires currently consuming vast areas of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands. In particular, Obama should hail Jokowi’s plans to end the opening of peatlands for cultivation and to promote community-based restoration of those already disturbed. Neither head of state should allow his vision to be clouded by spurious claims that proposed solutions will hurt small farmers or infringe on Indonesia’s national sovereignty.
Protecting tropical forests is good for the global climate and good for development in forested countries. In the absence of robust carbon markets, performance-based funding to reduce emissions from deforestation is a key way donors can provide the incentives and commitment tropical countries need to curtail forest loss.
Tropical forests are undervalued assets in the race to avert catastrophic climate change. They deliver a global—and very public— benefit by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon.