REDD - A Narrative Too Good to be True?


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This study was presented during the conference “Production and Carbon Dynamics in Sustainable Agricultural and Forest Systems in Africa” held in September, 2010.

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REDD - A Narrative Too Good to be True?

  1. 1. Department of Forest Products and Markets REDD: A Narrative too good to be true? Reidar Persson, SLU ABSTRACT Narratives are often deciding what is “hot” in the international environmental discussions. During the preceeding decades we have had narratives about disasters like desertification, acid rain, fuelwood shortage, loss of biodiversity, illegal logging and so on. We have also had narratives about panaceas like social forestry, soil conservation and plantations. Now climate change and deforestation are the dominant narratives. REDD is presented as the solution. The deforestation narrative tells us that deforestation is the cause of (at least) 17 % of CO2 emissions. It is argued that the global deforestation can easily be reduced and that this is a cheap way of reducing CO2 emissions. Some argue that it is not possible to reduce CO2 emissions enough without stopping deforestation. Old-timers argue that this has been tried before. The Tropical Forest Action Plan in the 1980s had e.g. the same objective. Many also argue that REDD is an unrealistic idea. It is technically and politically very difficult – or impossible - to achieve success. But the proponents of REDD don’t want to listen. It is now too late to change the direction of the REDD-express. It is hardly possible to improve the idea of REDD by criticizing it. Too many politicians have bought the idea and don’t want to lose face. Better is to try to improve the idea of REDD. Rehabilitation of degraded land by plantations or natural regeneration has e.g. most likely a greater potential than the present attempts to stop deforestation. This work can also be arranged so that it involves and benefits poor people. Rehabilitation would also mean creating new resources in developing countries instead of desperately trying to prevent the use of existing resources. Capacity building in this field seems urgently needed.
  2. 2. Department of Forest Products and Markets Narratives • Disasters – Fuelwood shortage – Desertification – Forest decline – Climate change • Panaceas – Social forestry – Plantations – REDD – the best of all
  3. 3. Department of Forest Products and Markets The REDD Narrative • IPCC2007- deforestation is responsible for 17% (or 1/5) of CO2 emissions • To reduce deforestation is a cheap and easy way to reduce emissions. ”We” shall pay for it. • Cheaper than reductions in industrial countries • ”We cannot reduce CO2 emissions enough if deforestation isn’t reduced” (the equation doesn’t work out) • Governance improved, lots of money etc • Everything to everybody
  4. 4. Department of Forest Products and Markets Conspiration theory • IPCC2007. Deforestation responsible for 17% of CO2 emissions (or 1/5) • Calculation based on figures from 2000. • If figures from 2005 used deforestation responsible for 12 % • If figures for 2010 is used the figure may be 10%
  5. 5. Department of Forest Products and Markets A comment • When I read climate change stuff on REDD (avoided deforestation), some of it looks like the Forestry Action Plan reborn. Stern: halting deforestation is the cheapist and most feasible way to reduce CO2 emissions. And the foresters do not stand up to say that (it) has been tried and failed. If it means resources for the sector, we are happy to provide smokescreens.”/ILO • •
  6. 6. Department of Forest Products and Markets TFAP??? • Initiated 1985 (WRI, FAO, WB, UNDP) • ”1000 resolutions about deforestation signed on international meetings during 40 years but nothing has happened” (1987) • Now there should be a change! • Planned to multiply successful projects • 8 billion US$/year should make a difference
  7. 7. Department of Forest Products and Markets • Typical UN-administration – FAO-co-ordination – Sector study – Lead agency – Main objective often report/donor money – Round table/donor meetings – 1991 86 countries involved
  8. 8. Department of Forest Products and Markets • ”TFAP worked only with industrial forestry”. • Wrong • ”Global possible” conference (1984) – 60% agriculture – 40% forestry • But became forestry • UN- system mismanaged TFAP • Conflicts between UN-agencies • Capacity building program was started • Same ideas as in REDD
  9. 9. Department of Forest Products and Markets Conclusions TFAP • TFAP was one step forward. Towards NFP • But it has hardly ”saved” one ha with forests • UN-system has difficulties to handle such projects. All countries must participate and be treated in the same way. • Try to learn something from TFAP!! • Or do we have to start from scratch?
  10. 10. Department of Forest Products and Markets Is REDD a realistic idea? Problems discussed • Baseline • Additionality. • Leakage • Permanence • Monitoring • Degradation • Verifiability • Payment system • Liability • Tenure • aso
  11. 11. Department of Forest Products and Markets Comment • There are problems • But a lot of discussions/studies if and how these problems can be solve • Technically most problems can be solved • One can grow bananas on Greenland if absolutely needed • But is it realistic?
  12. 12. Department of Forest Products and Markets What is deforestation? • FAO 2010 – 5.2 million ha/year • 50 mill ha cleared each year but 45 mill ha comes back • In Java there is a tree (”forest”) cover of 70% but only 8 % is called ”forest” by NGOs • Change in biomass important. Not change in area
  13. 13. Department of Forest Products and Markets REDD-readiness Index (RRI) • HDI • Corruption index • Democracy index • Governance index – Voice and accountability – Political stability and absense of violance/terrorism – Government effectiveness – Regulatory quality – Rule of law – Control of corruption
  14. 14. Department of Forest Products and Markets Country Def. Mill. ha RRI-index Poss.Red. % ? Brasilien 3,1 5,85 ? Indonesien 1,9 4,9 ? Bolivia 0,27 4,53 ? Mexico 0,26 4,52 ? Ecuador 0,2 4,42 ? Zambia 0,45 4,28 ? Tanzania 0,4 4,26 ? Venezuela 0,29 4,13 ? Kambodja 0,22 3,92 ? Kamerun 0,22 3,71 ? Nigeria 0,4 3,2 ? Zimbabwe 0,31 2,86 ? Sudan 0,6 2,74 ? Kongo DR 0,32 2,41 ? Myanmar 0,47 2,35 ?
  15. 15. Department of Forest Products and Markets Some conclusions • REDD can possibly reduce emissions by 2-3 % to 2020 • REDD is not the solution • REDD can reduce the pressure for change in e.g. industry and transport • We will not reach the targets for reduction if too much hope in • Difficult to bring REDD into a trading system • Create a seperate program for LULUCF?
  16. 16. Department of Forest Products and Markets Hypocrisy • We want to pay tropical countries to stop deforestation • Shall we also pay US to reduce deforestation in NW? • We pay farmers in Sweden to keep forests away. We want to have ”open landscapes”. • Some argue that selective felling in tropical forests must be included. Then thinning in our forests must also be included.
  17. 17. Department of Forest Products and Markets We neeed a New narrative • ”We know how REDD will fail. We can alreaday now write a report about what we will say in 2030”/FOCALI • But a good narrative cannot be killed with scientific arguments • No arguments will change Stoltenberg`s ideas • Changes can be achieved by developing the narrative. Make it ”better” • So one has to work with REDD++++++++
  18. 18. Department of Forest Products and Markets What to do? REDD++++ • REDD. Pick low-hanging fruits. But many cooks! • Support rehabilitation of degraded land/forests (500- 1000 mill ha) – Plantations for e.g. bioenergy – Rehabilitation of degraded land (natural regeneration) – Find methods to better utilize secondary forests • Support agriculture (e.g. increased carbon in soils, more intensive agriculture) • Capacity building
  19. 19. Department of Forest Products and Markets Final Question • There is one billion people with poor people in rural areas in the South • World population will increase to 9 billion by 2050 (that´s one additional China and India). Most of it in poor countries. • Agricultural production will have to increase by 70% • Is it then sensible to force developing countries to have reduced carbon emissions as their main targets for their land use?
  20. 20. Department of Forest Products and Markets Thank you