Comparing climate and cost impacts of reference levels for REDD

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By Jonah Busch, Bernardo Strassburg, Andrea Cattaneo et al.

We compare the impacts of six proposed reference level designs on emission reduction levels and on cost per emission reduction using a stylized partial equilibrium model (the open source impacts of REDD incentives spreadsheet; OSIRIS). The model explicitly incorporates national incentives to participate in an international REDD mechanism as well as international leakage of deforestation emissions. Our results show that a REDD mechanism can provide cost-efficient climate change mitigation benefits under a broad range of reference level designs. We find that the most effective reference level designs balance incentives to reduce historically high deforestation emissions with incentives to maintain historically low deforestation emissions. Estimates of emission reductions under REDD depend critically on the degree to which demand for tropical frontier agriculture generates leakage. This underscores the potential importance to REDD of complementary strategies to supply agricultural needs outside of the forest frontier.

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Source: Environmental Research Letters, Issue 4 (October-December 2009), 044006