Article Critique on REDD+
Columbia Southern University
BEM 3001: Environmental Law
Professor Mitch Weiss
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a financial incentive program to limit deforestation worldwide. REDD+ is funded internationally. REDD+ also has political power from the United Nations and thirteen program countries. This partnership has expanded into twenty-three countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. (“National Programmes,” n.d.) The European community, as well as the United States, was seeking ways to encourage responsible and sustainable logging. The program expanded and now also focuses on tropical forests. REDD+’s main thrust is to prevent any developing nation from converting forests into barren fields.
Deforestation has a major impact on climate regulations. The United Nations has decided that economic rewards from wealthy nations will enable others to make global decisions as their economies develop. REDD+ is “a catalyst for transformation to a Green Economy.” (“UN-REDD Programme-Climate Funds Update,” n.d.) The simple solution to pay nations not to cut down forests intends to assist them to find other means of expansion. The poorest countries have countered that they not only need the income from logging, but the timber to build homes and hospitals, to produce paper products, and for agriculture. (“This U.N. Program Should Have Taxpayers Seeing REDD,” 2011) The United Nations has not laid out a plan as to what industries they consider “Green”. Many developing countries are involved in recycling. This is an industry that is laden with hazards. Marine pollution is a worldwide issue. If a nation recycles shipping vessels over open water, is the industry truly “Green”? Policing of such ventures is spotty and lacks the power to enforce any regulations as set by the United Nations.
To this end, the United Nations has set out to build guidelines, permits, and sanctions to assist members to reach the goals of REDD+. Since the U.N. court’s founding in 1946, the U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) has sought to “render judgments on disputes submitted to it by States and to furnish advisory opinions on questions referred to it by authorized bodies.” (“United Nations: International Law Documentation,” n.d.) In the past, as with today, most resolutions are truly just international agreements. The U.N. lacks the power to enforce any program it ratifies. Individual nations, such as the United States, sometimes circumvent resolutions. In 2009, when the REDD+ text was made public, the United States’ representative declared the resolution would never pass. It was stated the document lacked clear language, no target dates for stopping deforestation, no financing, and no safe guards. Smaller countries like Papua New Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Columbia all sided with the U.S. They resisted all statutes to protect their biodiversity. The U.N. is limited to monitoring multiple nations’ actions through studies made by members such as Norway. Norway has taken a lead role in reviewing and assisting countries to adhere to REDD+. In Guyana, Norway laid out the forest “law enforcement and governance, and forced practices.” (“Study on Forest Law Enforcement and REDD+ in Guyana,” n.d.) This document was developed on site. Norway investigated the needs of indigenous people, wildlife, and the economic ramifications of REDD+.
Negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol began in 1997. This is a legally binding document. Industrialized nations must cut greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to a collective output in 1990. This means our country must reduce emissions by 6%. Greenhouse gases are inclusive of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur, hexafluoride, hydro fluorocarbons, and per fluorocarbons. (“Kyoto Protocol-Toward Climate Stability,” n.d.) The Kyoto Protocol has many different measures to assist countries monetarily to go green in a cost-effective manner. Based in Bonn, Germany, the U.N. has set up a Climate Change Secretariat. Here exact records of member’s efforts to conform to REDD+ are traced, reviewed, and kept. Funding was also established at Kyoto. CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) is the main source of income. Developing countries earn credits for emission reduction projects. (“About CDM,” n.d.) These credits are used in trade or can be sold. The World Bank, as organized by the U.N., is the trustee to all REDD+ funding.
International Environmental Law has undergone great changes during the development of REDD+. The United Nations through a series of summits has developed policies that are effective worldwide. The U.N. is using financial incentives and the political power of developed nations to create new laws. Even the shared waters at international borders have laws assigning repercussions for transmission of hazardous waste. Feuding nations can ask the U.N. to arbitrate over disagreements and infractions of International Environmental Laws.
Many feel that REDD+ will run into funding problems. Others say that the program is inexpensive “compared to fuel switching, carbon capture, and storage and other greenhouse gas abatement options.” (“This U.N. Program Should Have Taxpayers Seeing REDD,” 2011) Economic worries are not limited to the United States. Around the world, people strive to provide for their families. Is it fair that a handful of developed nations can buy and sell carbon credits while developing nations step away from the economic surge of the forestry industry? The development of technology, education, and the health of the world’s forests will combine to prove that the simple ideals of REDD+ will work. Sometimes the easiest solution is the best. Let’s see if the bureaucrats can fend off misappropriations and keep the REDD+ program simple.
About CDM (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2011, from http://www.cdm.unfcc.int/about/index.html Kyoto Protocol – Toward Climate Stability (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2011, from http://www.kyotoprotocol.com National Programmes (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2011, from http://www.un-redd.org/AboutUnREDDProgramme/NationalProgrammes/Partner_Countries Schulz, Nick. (2011, July 26) This U.N. Program Should Have Taxpayers Seeing REDD. Retrieved September 21, 2011, from