The Danger of Poorly Designed “Avoided Deforestation” Carbon Payments
Much attention is being placed upon “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD) [search] — which advocates carbon payments to avoid deforestation. EcoInternet and its predecessors have long advocated international payments to rainforest rich countries to offset opportunity costs associated with protecting rainforests [search] and to promote community based eco-developments based upon standing forests.
However the REDD approach is not without risk. Our primary concern is that carbon payments will support industrial first time selective logging of primary rainforests [search], based on the misconception this substantially protects these ancient rainforests' carbon stores (and biodiversity). Such diminishment in fact permanently destroys carbon storage potential, is only slightly better ecologically than outright deforestation, and as such primary forest logging is unworthy of avoided deforestation payments. To be effective and avoid “leakage“, continued ancient forest logging must not be allowed anywhere in countries receiving international monies to protect their rainforests for climate benefits.
There are a whole slew of other concerns that must be addressed to ensure that the concept of avoided deforestation payments is not usurped by industry as has been done to good ideas such as sustainable development and certified forestry. These include avoided destruction simply moving to another location, long-time local forest protectors being unable to receive payment, and destructive industries making outrageous claims they benefit the climate.
Most problematic — while the rainforest and climate crises rage, avoided deforestation and general international climate policies poke along at a glacial pace. The level of urgency and action is not equal to the threat, so a good idea is almost certainly too little too late.