Forest issues have taken the stage in the ongoing climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico. The conference is expected to develop an agreement on REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) that will become the legal basis for forested nations to implement the plan for emission reductions in order to mitigate global warming. The Jakarta Post’s Adianto P. Simamora interviewed Brazil’s lead negotiator for REDD affairs, Thelma Krug, on what Brazil, the nation with the world’s largest rainforest, has done to prepare for the implementation of REDD. Below is an excerpt.
Question: What is the status of REDD-plus pilot projects in Brazil?
Answer: We are still creating a national strategy for REDD, which means we are developing what could constitute an institutional arrangement, with broad participation by civil society, business people and indigenous people. We want their voices heard.
We have also discussed the distribution of financial benefits and learned about the implications and difficulties. We here in Brazil have discussed how the plan can become a comprehensive mechanism that could be adapted to Brazil.
Even if the Cancun talks come up with REDD rules, Brazil wants to have its own regulations that would fit into regulations made in multilateral agreements, but would also make specifications for the country.
In benefit sharing, we don’t know exactly how it would be distributed. We don’t have clear idea yet. We are still thinking about that carefully, with the participation of civil society, locals and indigenous groups.
We expect the benefits should be part of resources that need to implement monitoring tools for the verification of emissions cuts.
Some state governments in Brazil have been discussing benefit sharing within their own states, but this would only apply in their respective areas, not to all of Brazil.
In Brazil, we also don’t call them REDD pilot projects. They are “self-labored” REDD projects because the federal government has not formally recognized the pilot project yet.
What would be your strategy for REDD implementation?
Brazil doesn’t see REDD being implemented through project-based mechanisms because we think REDD is a mechanism related to forms of more sustainable development change. The project-based approach would not lead us to that.
With project-based mechanisms, we can have a project here and another project somewhere else, but they would never make up a picture of REDD at the national level. What is necessary in Brazil’s vision is to have a national framework based on a national approach, so we know exactly where we want to go and how to get there.
The national approach to forests is necessary in order to provide ideas on how to get to REDD’s objective to maintain carbon stocks in forests and reduce emissions from deforestation.
Could you explain a little bit about the Amazon Fund?
The Amazon is the largest forest in Brazil. But it has not been developed through a national approach. The Amazon Fund was coordinated by the Development Bank of Brazil, not the federal government.
The deforestation rate in the Amazon continues to decrease. It is currently at 6,000 kilometers compared to more than 20,000 kilometers five years ago.
This reflects federal government policies like a tight monitoring system, fiscal policies and law enforcement.
We are now expanding the monitoring system to other forests in Brazil.
One condition that Brazil demands of donors providing money to the Amazon Fund is that their projects never generate certified emission reductions or any carbon trading.
We have made it clear since the beginning that all money given to the Amazon Fund should be voluntary contributions. So, there is absolutely no offsetting with any carbon reduction achieved through the Amazon Fund.
The government of Norway has promised US$1 billion to the Amazon Fund, but Norway can’t use it to offset its emissions.
Brazil has sovereignty to use the money from the fund, as the fund should be guided by several committees that have been put in place that involve the participation of civil society, NGOs, academics and researchers. They provide guidance as to how the money should be used.
Could you explain the latest progress of REDD in the group of G77?
We have had very little opportunity for success here, but I think the proposal of the chair on REDD must be very good.
We don’t want that (other sector) to benefit from the mechanism. We have to propose another carbon strategy for other sectors such as the energy, waste and industry sectors. We want REDD-plus to be about forest issues.