UN negotiators last week agreed to rules on financing forest projects in developing nations, paving the way for multibillion-dollar investments from governments, funding agencies and private firms in schemes to halt deforestation, according to Reuters.
The agreement calls for “results-based” funding for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a UN initiative that uses market and financial incentives to halt deforestation. Under the new rules, the Green Climate Fund will play a key role in channeling funding for projects to host governments, who in turn must set up national agencies to oversee the money. Money will be provided to host countries when they can prove they have reduced carbon emissions without harming local communities or biological diversity.
Countries also agreed on rules on how to measure and verify the emissions cuts from forest projects, Reuters says.
This was a welcome breakthrough at the COP19 climate talks in Warsaw, where negotiators are struggling to make progress in discussions on emissions cuts and climate change aid.
Ed Davey, the British minister for energy and climate change called the deal “another big step forward.”
Deforestation has played an increasingly important role in climate negotiations, because the loss of forests accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that scientists blame for global warming. Forests areas the size of a football field disappear every few seconds, which contributes more to global GHG emissions than all of the world’s cars, trucks and buses combined.
The Norwegian government has already paid out $1.4 billion in bilateral deals with nations such as Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana and Indonesia. The World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and a growing number of private-sector firms have also launched projects.
The governments of Britain, Norway and the United States earlier this week allocated $280 million to a World Bank-led fund operating REDD projects, according to Reuters.
A common set of rules for projects will provide regulatory certainty and draw more funds from investors, observers say.
“This sends a positive signal to national governments and to funding agencies,” Rosalind Reeve, a forestry expert with the Ateneo School of Government, told Reuters.
The fashion industry has launched its own initiative to protect the world's forests. Last month, Eileen Fisher and Canadian environmental NGO Canopy — with the help of Quiksilver, prAna, Patagonia, lululemon athletica and 14 progressive designers — announced a joint campaign designed to bolster protection of ancient forest ecosystems and raise awareness about the fashion industry’s role in endangering them.