Major report detailing how California can help fight tropical deforestation lauded by environmental, research groups

July 18, 2013
Contact: 
Jennifer Andreassen, Environmental Defense Fund, +1-202-572-3387, jandreassen@edf.org
Joaquin McPeek, Environmental Defense Fund, +1-916-492-7173, jmcpeek@edf.org
Environmental and research groups hailed a report released today by world-class experts on how California can help fight tropical deforestation and carbon pollution around the world through innovative policies that Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). The REDD Offsets Working Group (or ROW) report offers guidance to the state on establishing “gold-standard criteria” for tropical forest states that cut their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation and wish to receive credit in California’s climate change program. “The ROW report: Recommendations to Conserve Tropical Rainforests, Protect Local Communities, and Reduce State-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions" is the final version of the report produced by the group after receiving public comments on its draft released in January.
 
“Tearing down and burning tropical forests produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, trucks, buses, trains and airplanes on the planet combined,” said Environmental Defense Fund’s Director of Tropical Forest Policy Stephan Schwartzman, a member of the ROW expert group. “California has the opportunity to help turn that around, by taking a significant step to work with these states and jump-start programs that can keep forests standing.”
 
The destruction of tropical forests accounts for about 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions every year; tropical forests house more than half of the planet’s biodiversity and millions of people, including indigenous peoples, depend on them for their survival. In many tropical forest regions, deforestation and forest degradation accounts for a substantial portion of their annual greenhouse gas emissions - in some cases up to 80%.
 
The ROW report, authored by eleven ROW scientists and environmental policy experts:
  • offers the most detailed treatment to date of how to develop comprehensive, statewide REDD+ programs that account for emissions from entire states, not just fragmented, often isolated small-scale efforts.
  • addresses how to effectively incorporate REDD+ credits into a carbon-market system while maintaining environmental and social integrity.
  • describes how to ensure that any REDD+ credits from outside California come from states and provinces that are reducing emissions from their forest sectors in a way that is as stringent as California’s program requires for other types of emissions.
 
“California has an historical opportunity to send a badly needed positive signal to partner tropical states who are making enormous contributions in the fight against climate change with little or no recognition from the global community,” said IPAM International Program’s Director and Senior Scientist, Daniel Nepstad, also a member of the ROW group.
 
“For us to effectively address global warming, we need to address forest degradation and deforestation. The ROW report provides a dialogue so we can explore how California can not only reduce emissions within the state, but also leverage action elsewhere to reduce this significant source of emissions and benefit communities,” said Michelle Passero, Senior Climate Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy and member of the ROW expert group.
 
“These recommendations can help California leverage its ambitious climate change program to achieve emissions reductions beyond its borders that also provide enormous additional benefits to people and biodiversity in tropical forest states,” said Toby Janson-Smith, Senior Director of Forest Carbon Markets at Conservation International.
 
“The state of California now has the opportunity to do even more to stop dangerous climate change while cutting the costs of controlling global warming pollution. Recommendations from a group of experts on how Reducing Emissions from tropical Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) can come into California’s market show how,” EDF’s Schwartzman said.

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