REDD Concept and Carbon Trade
The United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 13th assembly in Bali, Indonesia in 2007, first developed the concept of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, it was found that deforestation and forest degradation account for nearly 20% emission in the form of carbon. Hence to reduce the GHG emission, preventing deforestation and forest land degradation was seen as one of the crucial tasks. And, for the developing countries that reduce the emission by preventing deforestation and forest degradation, the developed countries, listed as Annex I countries, which are the top GHG emitters, had to help them. Based on the results of how much carbon is sequestered by the forests with reference to a certain baseline data, the forests are to be paid. This is the basic concept of carbon trading.
Forest Management and Carbon Trading in Nepal
Researches show that carbon is stored in high amount in properly managed forests than in the unmanaged ones. The proper and sustainable management of forests can be done through Scientific Forest Management. But, we are still unclear whether to adopt Scientific Forest Management. Just months ago, we were debating if Scientific Forest Management is the right model for forest management. Some intellectuals even argued saying that local people are not able to understand the technicality of scientific management. If they were true, are those same people able to understand the technicality of carbon trading then? Through REDD mechanism; forests will not be paid for the same stocked carbon always, but only for the increased amount. Once paid, and if a forest does not become able to increase the carbon stock and does not get paid next time, people will certainly be suspicious about this mechanism: because money matters them most, not this technical issue. And it’s uncertain if they will continue working to increase forest carbon.
Global warming is soaring up not because ‘we’ (Nepalese) are consuming a high amount of fossil fuels. The amount of GHGs emitted by Nepal annually through the consumption of fossil fuels hardly equals the daily emission by, say, for example, China alone. Similar comparisons can be made with India, USA, Russia, Australia and some European countries. Nepal’s contribution for global GHG emission is just 0.025%. If we allocate our whole budget in fossil fuel only, though our contribution to global GHG emission probably won’t reach 1%. And still we are behind REDD that aims to reduce carbon emission by preventing deforestation from us, not from the top emitters! Should we always focus on forest conservation only or think about development too? Anyway, we are implementing it, but the issues of permanency, leakage, baseline data, etc. are raised and we are not certain to be paid again. We have been calculating the amount of dollars we deserve from our carbon sink but don’t know if we will really get it. Officials themselves say that there is no sufficient source of money for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which is supposed to pay for the carbon sink after 5 years, i.e. 2020 AD.
We are always discussing how Nepal can get benefits from carbon trading. We hardly hear the discussions about how carbon trading benefits the environment actually, as the objective of REDD is to reduce the emissions and ultimately limit the rise in temperature. But at the same time, the top carbon-emitting countries do not seem to be serious in cutting down their emissions. It is not sure that they will fulfill their commitment to limit the emissions. If we really work for the environment, we must be able to tell them; the top emitters, “we don’t want any payment for the carbon we sequester. It’s our duty towards the environment. We actually need you to cut down the emissions.” Then only we will have the ethical right to pressurize them to cut down the emission. Otherwise, they will always go on saying that they have been helping to mitigate the effects of climate change by paying for the carbon and it seems that we are letting them emit the GHGs as much as they want for the sake of money. Expecting money from the one and pressurizing the same to cut emission does not seem so valid.
What if those countries themselves say that they won’t pay for the carbon sink? [Probably, they won’t say it.] But, if they do, will we start deforestation to pressurize them? Certainly not. Being the leader of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Nepal should make its member countries understand it and create a collective pressure to the developed ones to limit their emissions.
Developed countries are unwilling to cut down emissions in the name of ‘economic growth’. But, The Climate Group, in one of its recent news story wrote – “Demonstrating again that economic growth can be achieved within environmental protection, according to the document presented to the press, ‘Switzerland emits less GHG today than in 1990 despite the fact that gross national product increased by 36% over the intervening period.’”
If Switzerland can do it, can’t other developed countries do the same?