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Effort Of International Community in Reducing Emissions From Deforestation And Effect On Climate Change – Legal Perspective

Abstract

The international community’s attempts to include initiatives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in the international legal framework controlling climate change are examined in this article. At the Thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 13), which took place in Bali in December 2007, such activities were officially acknowledged for the first time. The Negotiating Text, which is covered in this article, was created earlier this year by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention and is expected to have a significant impact on any REDD agreement at COP 15 in Copenhagen in December.

Keywords: environmental law, climate change, deforestation, REDD, carbon, monitoring reporting and verification (MRV).

Introduction

The 21st century will be characterized by the issue of manmade climate change and how mortal society handles it. This challenge revolves around the way carbon operates. Our lives depend on carbon because we utilize it as fuel, yet doing so also modifies the atmosphere and the planet’s environment. It should come as no surprise that a significant portion of the literature on environmental politics characterizes climate change as a carbon operation issue. The need to decarbonize global frugality and switch from a frugal lifestyle that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to a “new” frugal lifestyle that removes and sequesters carbon in comparable amounts to what it produces is becoming increasingly important (Paterson and Newell, 2010; Bridge, 2010 (Bridge, 2010, Bumpus and Liverman, 2008, Lovell and Liverman, 2010, Mitchell, 2009). The core issue of our time is carbon, both literally and figuratively. Any worldwide carbon sequestration and management plan must include forests. As a sink and reservoir of carbon dioxide, they are crucial to the regulation of global temperatures. However, climate change will also directly affect the world’s forest cover, frequently leading to the migration of forest species both latitudinally (toward the poles) and altitudinally (to higher elevations). The fact that there is still more carbon in the world’s forests than in the atmosphere, even after decades of widespread deforestation, illustrates the significance of forests to climate change (IPCC, 2007).As a result, there is a growing understanding that forests and climate change require consideration as related policy areas [i]until recently, deforestation and climate change were addressed mostly through different international policy pathways (cf. Boyd, 2010). The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been in charge of addressing climate change since 1992. Conversely, a wide spectrum of worldwide public and commercial institutions have addressed forests. The 1990s saw a shift in focus from the 1980s, when it was primarily believed that deforestation was a tropical issue best addressed by a Tropical Forestry Action Programme run by United Nations agencies and programs, to a focus on national forest programs, voluntary certification, and standards and indicators for sustainable forest management (Humphreys, 2006). International forest cooperation has shown both increasing coherence and fragmentation during this time, with actors occasionally.

Research Methodology

In order to thoroughly analyze ways to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation both globally and in India, this study, which is descriptive in nature, relies on secondary sources for its research. Newspapers, journals, and websites are examples of secondary sources of information that are employed in the research.

Review Of The Literature

The problem of anthropogenic climate change, and how human society responds to it, will define the twenty-first century. Central to this challenge is the management of carbon. Carbon is central to our lives: we use it for energy, but in so doing we are changing the atmosphere and reshaping the planetary ecosystem. It is no surprise; therefore, that much of the literature on environmental politics frames climate change as a problem of carbon management.  Arguably the most pronounced contemporary policy manifestation of this is the debate on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (or REDD+) by which governments and private investors from developed countries may compensate actors in tropical forest countries for reducing forest loss beneath an agreed baseline. 

RED to REDD+: Evolution Since Its Conceptualization

Fuelled by the continuing destruction of forests in developing countries, the aspired development and implementation of a REDD+ mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)[1] evolved into one of the major issues in the negotiations on a post-Kyoto agreement. In order to utilize forest carbon services under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the idea of REDD was initially presented in its early form during the climate change discussions at the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP-3) in 1997. Since the UNFCCC’s COP-9 in 2003, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing nations has been considered at side events under the headings of “Avoided Deforestation,” “Compensated reduction,” The Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect in 2005, was primarily concerned with reducing emissions from technical developments. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations, led by Papua New Guinea, first used this expression in its shortened form, RED (reducing emissions from deforestation), during the 11th UN Conference of Parties (COP-11) in Montreal (2005). They noted that deforestation was estimated to account for 12–15% of the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the form of REDD, the idea was further developed, broadened, and formally endorsed during COP-13 in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007.The addition of “degradation” to this acronym was due to the observation that forest degradation in some developing countries was as threatening as deforestation (if not more) to the forest ecosystems. Following the debates during the 14th COP in Poznan, Poland, in 2008, it was decided that REDD should evolve to REDD+ to encompass all the initiatives that can increase the carbon absorption potential of forests.

The insertion of “+” on the acronym REDD is aimed at broadening its scope to include all operations associated with preservation, restoration, and sustainable management of forest ecosystems. The official definition of REDD+ as set by UNFCCC is reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries”.

The International Law Framework for REDD

Prior to the climate change negotiations in Bali in December 2007, REDD was not incorporated in the international legal framework for dealing with climate change. Nonetheless, there is growing agreement among the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that REDD needs to be given top priority in talks on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol[2] in light of the scientific data.

The Bali Action Plan

Under the Bali Action Plan, negotiated at the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP13), the parties decided to begin a process immediately to allow them to adopt a decision at (COP15) (Copenhagen) on a shared vision for long-term cooperative action on climate change.  This vision will include a long-term global goal for emission reductions, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The inclusion of REDD in the Bali Action Plan is very important because international accords had not previously included it. Annex I Parties can rely on domestic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from forestry activities, which are limited to afforestation and reforestation since 1990, to meet their emissions reduction obligations under Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol. Similarly, in order to meet their Kyoto responsibilities, Annex I Parties may rely on their afforestation and replanting efforts in poor countries under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)[3].There are a number of reasons why REDD has been excluded previously from the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, these include concerns about: the risk of leakage; non-permanence; establishing baselines; additionality; and difficulties associated with monitoring and measurement.

Nationally appropriate mitigation action by developing countries

The mitigation by developing countries comprises five parts which are: nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries; means of implementation; measurement, reporting and verification of actions; measurement, reporting and verification of support; and institutional arrangements. These should be:

 Country-driven

 Voluntary and undertaken in the context of sustainable development

 In conformity with prior needs of sustainable development and eradication of poverty, and NAMAs may be enabled and supported by finance, technology and capacity-
building from developed countries; or be undertaken unilaterally by a developing
country; with the intention of generating carbon credits for participation
in the carbon market. A number of different NAMA activities are mentioned in the text including; the development of a national action plan, low carbon development strategies and plans, renewable energy strategies and plans; energy pricing measures CDM projects, economy wide or sectoral intensity targets; mitigation actions at subnational and local level. REDD-plus activities are defined as including the role of conservation and sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries while reducing emissions from deforestation.

The REDD Plus Mechanism

The creation of the REDD + mechanism (the Mechanism), whose goals are to help poor nations restructure their forestry industries in a way that supports international efforts to stabilize and lower the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The objective is to reduce gross deforestation in developing nations by at least 50% by 2020 compared to current levels and to stop the loss of forest cover in these countries by 2030 at the latest. in A phased-in strategy is necessary for the Mechanism to work.

Nationally Appropriate Activities

The nationally appropriate activities which will qualify for receiving positive incentives under the Mechanism include:

 Reduction in forest degradation

 Enhancement of forest carbon stocks due to conservation and sustainable management of forests, and/or increase in forest cover due to afforestation and reforestation.

REDD plus activities should be country driven and voluntary taking into account the need to ensure equitable access to financial and technological support for these actions.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Protection and Participation

There should be national level participation in REDD plus activities while forest governance, permanence and co-benefits such as biodiversity and ecosystem services should be promoted. Precautionary measures should be taken to protect biological diversity including by safeguarding against the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations. There is an acknowledgement of the necessity for good local government in which indigenous peoples and local communities participate and are able to adopt customary patterns of government. Indeed they should be involved in the design of plans and actions as well as the implementation of REDD plus activities and their land and their rights should be respected. Leakage should be avoided as much as possible.

REDD Obligations

  • National and international emissions displacement is avoided
  • REDD actions are permanent and do not result in future in increased emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
  • Appropriate governance structures are in place to facilitate the appropriate use of funds provided for REDD
  • Consultative mechanisms are established and the rights of indigenous people and communities are protected in domestic legislation
  • Land tenure systems are recognised, and
  • Actions are consistent with biodiversity conservation.

Monitoring, Reporting and Verification

As with all NAMAs, monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) is absolutely crucial for the successful implementation of REDD programs. Yet it remains one of the most contentious aspects of REDD given concerns about whether or not the technology for monitoring emissions from deforestation is currently available, and whether developing countries have the capacity to accurately engage in MRV processes. The Text represents this dilemma by stating either that developing countries participating in the forest carbon mechanism must register their national forest emissions level in their National Schedules, with their REDD activities properly monitored, reported and verified against their agreed national forest emissions levels, or that those countries requesting support for REDD plus actions shall/should record under the NAMA registry the actions undertaken, including information on the extent and type of support requested, the nature of the action, and any information received on MRV of actions.

Establishing National Reference Emission Levels

When establishing national reference emission levels for emissions, removals, conservation areas, and existing forest carbon stocks, developing countries which are requesting funding support must follow any guidance developed by the COP on how to establish the levels, including ways to address domestic leakage and in order to avoid carbon leakage and to ensure the environmental integrity of the REDD plus mechanism, a global level for future emissions and removals from the forestry sector, and other selected land-use and activities in developing countries, must be established. Developing countries which are aiming to implement REDD plus actions must report on the implementation of any REDD plus readiness activities, including policy implementation and demonstration activities as well as identified co-benefits such as biodiversity.

Robust National Monitoring Systems

According to the Text, developing country parties must create strong national monitoring systems that take into account pertinent IPCC guidelines and methodologies for greenhouse gas inventories as well as pertinent methodological guidance given by the COP based on the advice of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). The monitoring system should include above and below ground carbon stocks, subject to the availability of technology, finance and capacity-building. They should also take into account ancient indigenous and local community knowledge.

Financing REDD

A recent report has estimated that developing countries will need international financing flows of between US$22-44 billion per year between 2010-2012 to implement wide ranging emissions and adaptation programs, rising to US$95-147 billion per year for the next decade. The financing is likely to be provided through direct offset purchases 15%), auction revenues 30-50%) and public and international finance 50-70%)[4] through international maritime and aviation levies, concessional debt and direct public fiscal revenues. It is difficult to estimate the specific funding needs for REDD, however, one of the most recent estimates has been provided by the Meridian Institute which, in March 2009, prepared An Options Assessment Report (OAR) for the Norwegian government. The OAR estimates that, to achieve 50% global reductions in forest emissions, funding in the order of US$15-US$35 billion per year will be needed, while at present only US$2 billion is available. A REDD plus funding mechanism must be established at COP15 under which developed countries commit to providing adequate, predictable and long-term sustainable funding for REDD in developing countries. The provision of funding should be transparent, efficient and equitable while ensuring that all relevant stakeholders and indigenous people and local communities derive a fair distribution of benefits.

Green India Mission

The ability of trees to sequester carbon is a very important environmental function in the context of the National Action Plan on Climate Change’s (NAPCC)[5] overarching goal. Improved and enhanced tree and forest cover is correctly identified by the NAPCC as a potential mitigating intervention. One of India’s eight national missions is a “national mission for a green India,” a very doable initiative that best tackles the country’s climate change problems while aligning with its larger socioeconomic objectives. The government has put in place Green India Mission with a budget of Rs 46,000 crores (approximately USD 10 billion) over a period of 10 years[6]. The mission will help in improving ecosystem services in 10 million ha of land and increase flow of forest-based livelihood services and income of about 3 million forest dependent households[7]. The GIM acknowledges the influence that the forestry sector has on environmental amelioration and inclusive development. In addition to providing services like fuel, fodder, timber, and non-timber forest products (NTFPs), the Green India Mission also aims to improve ecosystem services like hydrological services, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration and storage (in forests and other ecosystems) while addressing the livelihood issues of people living in and around forests. The mission places “greening” within the framework of mitigating and adapting to climate change. The expedition will seek positive incentives from the REDD+ system in addition to other goals. The achievement of putting the JFM concept into practice can be repeated to safeguard the rights of tribal and other people that live in forests and include them in the planned REDD+ system. The mission aims to serve as a tangible example of India’s support for policies pertaining to conservation, sustainable forest management, and increasing the amount of forest cover in order to decrease deforestation. However, unless the mission receives additional funding from the upcoming REDD+ mechanism, it will not be possible to completely fulfill the incremental targets outlined in the mission. Similarly, there is likelihood of financial support for maintenance of baseline stocks through REDD+ mechanism. The Forest Carbon Partnership (FCPF) aims to prepare forest countries for REDD+ implementation—known as REDD+ Readiness[8]. The FCPF assists developing countries in their efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, (all activities commonly referred to as “REDD+”) by providing value to standing forests. The Interim REDD+ Partnership created in Paris during the May 2010 conference on forests and climate change was made up of an initial group of six developed nations who have pledged to provide US$4.5 billion to assist developing countries jumpstart REDD+ activities[9].

REDD+ Strategy of India

The REDD+ text in the Cancun Agreements has came out from the text that had been discussed for many years in the UNFCCC negotiations. The text sets the stage for a nationally driven phased approach to a REDD+ mechanism[10]. The international framework involves a three-phase approach for an REDD+ mechanism for developing countries like India: (1) development of national strategies or action plans and capacity building; (2) implementation of national strategies or action plans that could involve REDD+ pilot projects; and (3) mobilization of funds from developed countries, with financing mechanisms[11]. The REDD+ strategy plan for India containing three phases is still under preparation. These phases are as follows(i)Phase Ipreparation for adoption of REDD+,(ii)Phase IIunderstanding implementation of REDD+, (iii)Phase III: full scale result-based implementation of REDD+. The REDD+ strategy plan for India will include mechanism for addressing direct benefit for biodiversity as well as benefit sharing to indigenous and local communities[12]. The incentives so received from REDD+ would be passed to the local communities involved in protection and management of the forests and will ensure sustained protection of our forests against deforestation. In Indian context, the forest will not be managed for “carbon services” alone, but for all the ecosystem services that are flowing from the forests to the local community. It is estimated that a REDD+ programme for India could provide capture of more than 1 billion tonnes of additional CO2 over the next 30 years and provide more than USD 3 billion as carbon service incentives under REDD+[13]. The country specific safeguards will be a part of national strategy with a view to ensure full participation of local communities and all other stakeholders. India’s national REDD+ strategy aims to enhance the quantum of forest ecosystem services that flow to the local communities by enhancing and improving the forest and tree cover of the country.

Conclusion

Currently, there is significant concern over global warming, green house gas emissions, and their possible impacts on society. For successful implementation of REDD+ in India, technological assistance, readiness assistance, and continued political momentum are essential. A comprehensive national REDD+ strategy must be created and put into action, along with action plans, and pilot projects in certain locations must begin right away with the cooperation of partners on a national and worldwide scale. A significant amount of capacity building is required for the successful implementation of REDD+ at every level of the forest hierarchy. Programs for capacity building must be operationalized through the development of an appropriate multilateral financing framework. Because REDD+ implementation would need massive coordination efforts, the national REDD+ institutional structure is urgently needed. Pilot projects for REDD+ can be initiated in joint forest management areas. For effective implementation of REDD+ programmes there is need for forests-related legislation in place to enable REDD+ related project development which also includes definitions of ownership, rights, and obligations with respect to the sale and trade of carbon or Payment for Environmental Services (PES) accrued through REDD+ projects.


[1] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, opened for signature June 20, 1992, 31 ILM 848 (1992) (entered into force 21 March 1994).

[2] Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, opened for signature March 16, 1998, 37 ILM 22 (1998) (entered into force 16 February 2005).

[3] The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), (Art. 12 of the Kyoto Protocol), allows developed countries to invest in emission reducing projects in developing countries, and to obtain certified emission reductions (CERs) towards meeting their assigned amounts.

[4] Project Catalyst Scaling up Climate Finance: Finance Briefing Paper September 2009 available at http://www.project-catalyst.info/images/publications/climate_finance.pdf

[5] www.hindawi.com

[6] Chapter on Climate Change and Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

[7] Ministry of Environment and Forests, India’s Forests and REDD+, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

[8] V. R. S. Rawat, “REDD Plus in India: from negotiations to implementation,” in Proceedings of the Pre-Congress Workshop of 1st Indian Forests Congress, ICFRE, Dehradun, India, 2011.

[9] EDRI, From RED To REDD+, Africa Regional Dialogue on Forests, Governance & Climate Change, 2010.

[10] www.hindawi.com

[11] IISD, Safeguards and Multiple Benefits in a REDD+ Mechanism, International Institute of Sustainable Development, Canada, 2011, www.iisd.org.

[12] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Inputs of Climate change Division on Agenda Item 7 of SUBSIDIARY BODY ON SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVICE for Sixteenth meeting at Montreal, 30 April 5 May 2012, 2012.

[13] Ministry of Environment and Forests, India’s Forests and REDD+, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.


Soumish Ghosh

University Of Burdwan