Results needed to tackle forest roots of climate challenge
“We are now at a crucial juncture in efforts to value forests, through results-based payments, for the currently undervalued service they provide the planet,” said Mr Busch on the side line of a GCF workshop in Bali, Indonesia focusing on results-based payments for REDD+.
“If the emissions from rainforests were considered as a country they would be the third biggest emitter after China and the US,” said Mr Busch, who is co-author of the book “Why Forests? Why Now?”
“We certainly cannot ignore forests in reaching the Paris Agreement goal of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Net deforestation is currently responsible for around 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The potential of forests to contribute to mitigation is even greater, when we consider that protecting and restoring forests can actually add to the sinks of carbon stored in the ground.”
The five-day GCF workshop, which wound up on Monday 24 April 2017, brought together a wide range of REDD+ experts. REDD+ refers to a UN-moderated process which provides developing countries with payments for “achieving emissions reductions from deforestation and forest degradation and to conserve and enhance carbon sinks.”
REDD+ was based on an idea where finance generated by a global market of trading emission reductions would fund the protection of forests. However, low prices for units of emission reduction and the failure, so far, of a global market trading emissions to materialize means REDD+ has morphed over time.
Mr Busch said aid money from developed nations now accounts for 90 percent of REDD+ funds, with the remainder provided by voluntary payments by companies wishing to offset their emissions.
A results-based approach to REDD+ provides assurance to funding providers that their finances result in the substantial and verifiable abatement of greenhouse gases.
The concept of REDD+ results-based finance received a major fillip after it became a key element of the Paris Agreement (article 5) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) climate change meeting held in France, following years of complicated REDD+ negotiations.
Mr Busch said there is now a great potential for results-based REDD+ to take off as economics, politics and technology, including the use of satellites to measure forest cover, are aligned compared to five years ago.
There are now numerous avenues where results-based payment for REDD+ can progress such as in ongoing funding by Norway and other aid providers to protect forests in Indonesia, Brazil and Guyana.
“The GCF’s current consideration of supporting results-based payment for REDD+ also provides a huge boost to the progression of the results-based model, which currently accounts for half of the approximate USD 1 billion going to REDD+ funding each year,” said Mr. Busch.
The GCF workshop sought input from 60 REDD+ practitioners, including civil society and indigenous people representatives, on the Fund’s current preparation of a Request for Proposals on REDD+ results-based payments. The Fund uses Request for Proposals to search for initiatives to fill current climate finance gaps.
The workshop also gathered guidance from people with REDD+ experience on how to support efforts by National Designated Authorities and focal points in developing countries to engage with GCF in these countries’ early phases of REDD+ implementation.