Deforestation and forest degradation threaten the global climate system by removing one of the planet’s essential absorbers and storehouses of carbon. Currently, forest loss is thought to contribute between 12-17 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations offer an opportunity to better recognize and protect forests’ contribution to the global climate system. It can do this in part by providing positive incentives to developing countries who take actions to reduce emissions from forest loss and degradation (known as “REDD”).
How this will be accomplished, however, is much more complicated. It requires figuring out what the rules would be, how efforts would be funded, and how success would be defined and measured. In Copenhagen, negotiators and heads of state made progress on the REDD+ issue, but ensuring this system goes forward will require further action throughout 2010.