Key Countries Commit to a Partnership to Reduce Deforestation Emissions

Today, around 50 developed and developing countries have signed a partnership to take “immediate action” to reduce deforestation emissions.  These countries signed a “REDD+ Partnership” (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference in Norway.  The Partnership is an important step in international efforts to address global warming pollution from deforestation.  These key countries are now committing to move from talk to action on efforts to address global deforestation.

Addressing deforestation emissions is a central effort in the fight against global warming so the commitment from these key countries will ensure that work begins immediately.  Because every second of delay means that another acre of rainforest is lost (and won’t return).  Towards this end, developed countries have now pledged to deliver over $4 billion over the next three years in efforts to address deforestation (as reported by AFP).  This partnership should help to ensure this money is spent wisely, effectively, and transparently.  After all, we need to have tangible progress in reducing deforestation emissions and show we can really do it.  Both will be critical to maintaining strong public support for the ongoing funding necessary to address this challenge.

The countries represented by this agreement are critical players as they account for a significant portion of the deforestation emissions and remaining tropical forests, as well as, the developed countries that have pledged resources towards addressing deforestation. 

Today major environmental, conservation, and development groups released a statement in response to the agreement.  Here is the statement:

A significant step forward in the battle against climate change was made today with agreement from around 50 nations for the rapid deployment of more than $4bn to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) - which is responsible for more CO2 than every motorized vehicle on the planet.

A coalition of some of the world’s leading environment and development NGOs, including Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resource Defense Council, Rainforest Alliance, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Wildlife Conservation Society, said today that the meeting in Oslo, Norway to launch a “REDD+ Partnership” was an important move from talk to action and released the following statement:

“The launch of the REDD+ Partnership demonstrates that countries finally are ready to move from talking about stopping deforestation and forest degradation, to taking action to address this challenge. With deforestation accounting for the same amount of global warming pollution as all the cars, trucks, ships, and planes in the world we must turn the corner on this issue if we are to address climate change.  Every second that we delay action on deforestation we lose an area the size of two football fields.  Time is not on our side.

This Partnership can serve as an important venue for countries to cooperate on specific actions to address deforestation and forest degradation emissions.  The world needs to ramp up its actions on deforestation and forest degradation and the REDD+ Partnership countries are central to this effort.  These countries must mobilize the necessary resources, political will, and actions to achieve lasting reductions in deforestation and forest degradation emissions.  We have no time to lose.

This Partnership can be a launching point for this increased global effort.  The global community must continue to develop a post-2012 international climate agreement, one that recognizes the critical role of reducing deforestation and degradation emissions.  This Partnership represents important progress towards that goal.  We look forward to working with all the countries in this Partnership to deliver effective, efficient, and transparent actions to address the emissions associated with deforestation and forest degradation.  Enhancing civil society participation in the Partnership will help ensure all relevant actors are engaged in forest-related climate solutions.”

Time to act.  The US has committed $1 billion towards efforts to cut deforestation emissions and President Obama has outlined a tangible down payment towards this commitment in his budget (as my colleague discussed).  Now Congress must agree to turn this pledge into real money so we can begin to implement tangible efforts to support countries in reducing their deforestation emissions.  And other countries need to turn their pledges into real resources so that no time is lost in deploying resources to make the needed changes on the ground in tropical countries.   

Now that this Partnership has been agreed, these countries working with NGOs, indigenous peoples, and forest dependent communities must begin the hard work of turning the corner on efforts to reduce deforestation emissions.  We have no time to wait so let’s get started.