Deforestation: Solved via carbon markets?

Carbon pricing eyed as new motivator to saving tropical rainforests

Deforestation is responsible for up to 19% of the world's greenhouse gases. But, in many tropical nations, it is more economical to cut down forests than protect them. 

At EDF, we want to transform the profit motive and make forests more valuable alive than dead. Doing so would be one of the most efficient ways to lower global emissions in a way that protects the livelihoods of Indigenous communities.

That's the driving idea behind a global policy effort we helped pioneer, known as REDD+, which stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

How it works: In a REDD+ program, a state, jurisdiction or country that commits to reducing deforestation below an established baseline would receive valuable credits to sell in carbon markets.

Who will buy the forest credits?


Chiapas, Mexico, is using a REDD+ program to preserve tropical rainforests.

REDD+ allows countries and subnational governments to meet their climate goals.

International airlines are discussing the potential to use REDD+ offset credits to meet their obligations under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, a global market-based measure limiting the net carbon dioxide emissions of international flights.

These scenarios would create demand for REDD+ credits. The supply is there to meet this demand.

Around the world, REDD+ programs are getting off the ground in Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile and Indonesia. Our partners and staff have assisted with launching programs in the states of Acre, Brazil, and Chiapas, Mexico.

For these programs to succeed, they will need financial incentives. They will also require stakeholder input and a consistent policy across an entire forest landscape.

One beef or soy farm engaging in a forest protection program, while helpful, won’t really make a dent in solving the problem. The key is for governments, Indigenous communities and the private sector to collaborate on a forest protection policy across an entire region.

Tropical forests are vital for a healthy planet. Only working together can we protect them.

Act when it matters most

Every day more than 60 people sign up for news and alerts, to find out when their support helps most. Will you join them? (Read our privacy statement.)

Donate to support this work