Addressing growing concerns about forest carbon credits is critical to successful mitigation

A herd of wild elephants in the Sebokor Village Forest, this area is part of the Padang Sukihan Wildlife Sanctuary – Sebokor. Photo: Faisal Abdul Aziz/CIFOR

With growing investor interest in forest-based climate mitigation, including forest carbon sinks and benefits from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), recent debates have raised challenging questions that experts say need to be adequately addressed. They say

Forest conservation is an important tool for mitigating climate change, but integrity issues in forest carbon offsets — such as elevated reference levels — must be addressed to maintain and support the integrity of forest-based climate solutions, the scientists said. May 9 session Global Forest Monitoring Initiative (GFOI) complete by 2023. The side event aimed to address potential pitfalls by learning mainly from CIFOR-ICRAF’s long-standing lessons. A Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (2009-2023), covering about 14 years of research in 22 countries.

Accurate and transparent measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions is an important part of the forest carbon market; However, very few rigorous assessments of REDD+ effectiveness are available, said Pham Thu Thuy, a senior scientist who leads the Climate Change, Energy and Low Carbon Development Group with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

That, in turn, has contributed to a lack of clear guidance on good enforcement practices, he said.

Reforming the methodology for constructing and measuring reference levels, such as deforestation rates, could improve integrity and reliability in REDD+ projects, which typically require millions of dollars in upfront investments and take 10 years to show returns, speakers said. During the GFOI event. It brought together global experts to share scientific findings on the effectiveness of forest carbon projects.

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Standards for 'high-integrity REDD+’ include counterfactual baselines, new remote sensing capabilities, assessment of atmospheric integrity, leakage, biodiversity impacts and equity, said Kevin R. Brown, global leader in REDD+ and nature-based technology standards. solutions in Wildlife Conservation Society.

Erin Sills, Senior Associate, CIFOR-ICRAF North Carolina State University, noted that impact assessment and accounting systems for carbon credits serve different purposes. However, he added, impact assessment findings and methods should be used to design accounting systems to „increase incentives to reduce deforestation.”

In addition to focusing on forest carbon credits and markets, benefit-sharing mechanisms should also be addressed, Baum said, as discussions turned to challenges and prospective solutions in moving toward more integrated forest carbon credits.

„We need to have the benefits shared equally, as well as the involvement of local communities to ensure that equity and fairness are taken into account,” he added.

„We’re seeing a lot of progress and a lot of discussion about how to improve the methodology for valuing carbon credits, and I think progress in terms of non-carbon benefits has been very slow in comparison.”