World Agroforestry Centre climate change expert Jonathan Haskett reports back from the Carbon Markets, Forestry & REDD USA conference in Washington DC, June 10-11 2010.
The conference, which brought together leading industry actors, policymakers and scientists, showcased progress in North American forest carbon markets and beyond, with a special focus on current and potential links to international mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), land use, and sustainable development.
The evolution of US climate legislation is critical and is already shaping REDD+ initiatives internationally.
The climate legislation currently wending its way through the United States Congress featured prominently on the first day. The current incarnation of the legislation is the 'American Power Act', which includes a cap-and-trade system for utilities and industries, and has provisions for funding international actions to avoid deforestation.
David Hunter of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) gave a lengthy account of the ups and downs of the US climate change legislative process to illustrate the on-again-off-again status of the bill. He emphasized that the bill had been declared “dead” a number of times and that each time it had been revived and moved forward. The oil spill in the gulf also seemed to be giving the legislation momentum and he remained cautiously optimistic that the legislation would pass in some form.
Hunter was followed by Jeff Horowitz of Avoided Deforestation Partners (ADP), who initially stressed the need for universal REDD methodologies and then moved on to a discussion of the pledge of the United States of $1B in support of REDD to be matched by $2.5B pledged by other countries, as part of the interim partnership on REDD currently being led by Norway and France. Of this funding 25% was to be allocated to technical readiness activities to help nations prepare to participate in REDD activities, 60-70% was to go for demonstration activities (innovative, large scale, low-carbon development programs), with the balance of about 10% going for the purchase of REDD credits. USAID will be the gatekeeper of these funds on the US side and will be administering a centrally managed, performance based, landscape sustainability fund. On the legislative side ADP has been working an interesting argument with farm state Senators that stopping deforestation will help American farmers and producers by limiting the availability of cheap, deforestation sourced soybeans, beef, and timber. REDD payments are then seen as a vehicle for saving American jobs.