The Importance of Forests
Deforestation is the second largest source of emissions that contribute to climate change. At 17% of all global annual greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation is a larger contributor to climate change than the entire global transportation sector.
The United Nations therefore created the REDD+ mechanism (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) to address the root cause of the deforestation crisis: economic incentives that encourage unsustainable land use. REDD+ quantifies and values the carbon storage services that forests provide, helping change the economic incentives around deforestation and international development.
California as a Climate Leader
In 2006, California became the first state to seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions when the state legislature passed Assembly Bill 32: The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Within this legislative framework, regulated entities can meet 8% of compliance obligations with carbon “offsets” (17 CCR §95854(b)). Lawmakers acknowledged the possibility of including international REDD+ credits as one such offset option (17 CCR §95991) for regulated entities to meet up to 2% of their compliance obligations from 2015-2018 and up to 4% thereafter (17 CCR §95854(c)).
REDD+ in California’s Cap and Trade Market
The independent REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) was established to advise the state on how to technically and legally integrate REDD+ into the Cap and Trade Regulations, and the Governors Climate & Forests Task Force (GCF) was created to link California to tropical jurisdictions that upon approval by the California Air Resources Board would provide REDD+ supply in California’s Cap and Trade Program. The first two jurisdictions that would supply into California’s market would be the original GCF members, Acre, Brazil and Chiapas, Mexico.
Read Code REDD’s letter of support for REDD+ in California here.
REDD+ in the Future
As a first mover, California’s decisions have enormous potential to affect future national (and global) legislation. The balanced approach of California’s framework ensures that regulated entities continue to cut emissions at source while also acknowledging the importance of tropical forests and sustainable land use incentives within climate change policy. The inclusion of REDD+ in California’s climate policy will send a vital market signal to other climate policies and strategies emerging globally. Code REDD is actively working to demonstrate widespread support for REDD+ across private companies, non-profits, and indigenous communities.
By supporting REDD+, California could strong signal to the world that tropical forests and sustainable land use incentives are critical to an effective climate change mitigation and adaptation framework. We simply cannot achieve our carbon emissions reductions goals without it.