Monday, December 2, 2013

The piggy box is never full!

The world is losing its forests at a rate of 13 million hectares (32 million acres) a year, contributing one-third of the world's atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions. The share is higher in developing countries where forests are being razed to make way for agriculture. However, this is inevitable as demand for crops keeps increasing. The challenge has been to make the developed world compensate in ways which could limit the deforestation.
REDD+ finance, the money needed to set up and implement a system that pays countries to leave forests standing, has followed a long road since the 2007 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where nations pledged to take meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation. A 2008 study found it would cost between $17.2 billion and $28 billion per year to cut the global rate of deforestation in half.
According to a recent policy brief from the Overseas Development Institute, $2.72 billion has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007 through five multilateral funds and two bilateral funds, more than half of it to Indonesia and Brazil. About one-tenth of the pledges have been disbursed to projects on the ground. But it has just not been substantial enough.

At the Warsaw meet, the U.S. State Department pledged $25 million last week as part of a major new $280 million funding initiative aimed at slowing deforestation and stemming its effect on world carbon emissions. The United States joined Norway, the United Kingdom and the World Bank in launching the "BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes." The fund will provide incentives to developing countries that are taking steps to limit the chopping and razing of trees under the United Nations' Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, or REDD+.The United States will be the new fund's smallest national donor, compared with Norway's $135 million and the United Kingdom's $120 million. The fund will be administered by the World Bank's BioCarbon Fund, a public-private initiative aimed at finding ways to sequester carbon.
But some observers expressed disappointment that the U.S. and its partners didn't put forward a more substantial sum.
Since the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, there haven't been any substantial pledges to fund REDD+ past 2012. Although Norway has said it will fund REDD+ through 2020, a concrete commitment has been absent.
REDD+ negotiators expect diplomats in Warsaw this week to approve text on five scientific and technical decisions that will lay the groundwork for finance. These include: human rights and environmental safeguards; the definitions of drivers of deforestation; ways for measuring countries' reference levels, or the base line upon which to measure forest loss; monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions reduction; and the creation of a national forest monitoring system.

Besides the BioCarbon Fund, the World Bank houses two other major coffers for REDD+, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the Forest Investment Fund. The FCPF is divided into two funds, one to help countries get ready to implement a REDD+ program and another to pay for verified emissions reductions.

Forests constitute what is known as the planet's lungs, and when they disappear in chunks, it is the health of the whole biosystem that suffers. Not limited to the area or nation that applies the axe, deforestation affects everyone. That is why it is imperative that initiatives must go beyond rhetoric and mere symbolism.

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