Should Governments Buy REDD+ Credits To Bail Out Projects?

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By Steve Zwick
The Debaters

Many good reasons for governments to pay for forest carbon Jonah Busch, Research Fellow, Center for Global Development,

Governments must plug REDD+ demand gap Matt Leggett, Head of Policy, Global Canopy Programme

Public support for REDD+ critical to jump-start jurisdictional efforts Steve Zwick, Managing Editor, Ecosystem Marketplace

Bailing out REDD+ sends the wrong message James Griffiths, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Government’s priority should be to create value in forests, not bail out projects Donna Lee, Former US negotiator on REDD+

24 February 2014 | Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are said to account for 10-17 percent of global emissions. of the most quick and cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It was under this premise that in 2007, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to develop a mechanism to see money channeled to tropical forested countries to incentivize them to adopt practices that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (known as REDD+).

Over the years, REDD+ finance has come from many different sources - international funding from aid budgets, private sector involvement in low-carbon development projects, national budgetary support, investments addressing deforestation drivers and various other multilateral and bilateral channels.

But as countries transition from REDD+ Phase I (readiness) and Phase II (demonstration) to Phase III (results-based actions), payments and other forms of compensation need to be offered for verifiable emission reductions. These payments will require significant sums of additional funding.

REDD+ projects are already starting to generate credits. But demand is low. And supply is expected to grossly exceed market demand in the next five years.

Cutting off finance sends a strong signal of indifference and uncertainty to projects that may be reducing deforestation and delivering multiple social and environmental benefits. It may also discourage countries to press on with the complex, long-term governance reforms that REDD+ has catalyzed.

The right incentives need to be in place for forest country governments and the private sector, who can then commit the necessary financial, human and political capital.

So does the task for driving demand fall to governments? Or should other actors step up and put their money where their mouth is?

We send our debaters into The Ring.

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Michelle Kovacevic is the Editor of She can be reached at
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