The report finds that for the 2030 forest goals to remain within reach, a one gigaton milestone of emissions reductions from forests must be achieved no later than 2025, and yearly after that.
However, current public and private commitments to pay for emissions reductions are only at 24% of the gigaton milestone goal.
The report calls for incentives in form of a strong forest carbon price signal, high integrity, equity, and increased investments in upfront finance to enable forested developing countries to conserve, restore, and sustainably manage their forests.
By Gabriel Labbate, Head of Climate Mitigation Unit and Global Team Leader UN-REDD, UNEP
Finance for forests is still insufficient to halt and reverse forest loss and degradation, crucial to keeping global warming below 2°C, according to a new report by the UN-REDD Programme, UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and the Green Gigaton Challenge (GGC).
The report will be presented during the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 27), at a live streamed event in the Nature Zone pavilion event on 11 November, from 3 pm-4 pm.
The report titled, ‘Making Good on the Glasgow Climate Pact: A Call to Action to Achieve One Gigaton of Emissions Reductions from Forests by 2025,’ finds that for the 2030 forest goals to remain within reach, a one gigaton milestone of emissions reductions from forests must be achieved no later than 2025, and yearly after that. However, current public and private commitments to pay for emissions reductions are only at 24% of the gigaton milestone goal. Only around half of these commitments have been realized through signed emissions reduction purchase agreements, and none of the funding for these commitments has been disbursed, despite forest-based solutions having a crucial annual mitigation potential of around 4 gigatons by 2030.
“There is no Paris Agreement and no Sustainable Development Goals without forests. As UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report reminded us once again, the window is closing and we urgently need to scale up action and finance for forest-based mitigation to achieve the 2025 one gigaton milestone and avert catastrophic climate change. If we succeed, and the new Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership is a promising sign of ambition, then vital targets for climate and nature remain within reach,” said Susan Gardner, Director of the Ecosystems Division, UNEP, on behalf of the Green Gigaton Challenge.
To achieve SDGs 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land), the report’s authors call for incentives in form of a strong forest carbon price signal, high integrity, equity, and increased investments in upfront finance to enable forested developing countries to conserve, restore, and sustainably manage their forests.
The report makes five key points:
- An unmistakable signal in the form of a carbon price of USD 30-50 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for forest emissions reductions is needed to provide the incentives, means, and predictability required for countries to invest in the protection of their forests. Such a price would combine a donor-funded floor price with private sector demand for high-integrity emissions reductions above that price.
- There cannot be progress without equity. Indigenous peoples and local communities are on the front line, leading the way with conservation and sustainable management of forests, but their lives are often at risk. Direct access to funding at sufficient volumes should be guaranteed for Indigenous peoples and local communities as true partners, and with a focus on women.
- That high integrity is key to ensuring real, robust emissions reductions holds particularly true for the voluntary carbon market, as also emphasized by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities. Nearly USD 1.7 billion in transactions for forestry and land-use projects took place in 2021 in the voluntary markets, representing more than 285 million tCO2e. How successfully this market can be leveraged in the fight against deforestation will depend on its alignment with UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, as well as on having robust quantification mechanisms to deal with reversals and leakage, and strong adherence to safeguards.
- Upfront investment in REDD+ readiness and implementation must continue and be scaled up to ensure countries’ capacity and action to achieve emissions reductions results, with effective measurement, verification, and reporting systems and safeguards in place. A higher price for forest carbon, combined with reasonable certainty of future payments, would go a long way towards attracting upfront finance for REDD+.
- High-forest low-deforestation (HFLD) countries need more financial support. HFLD countries store 18% of tropical forest carbon worldwide but current forest climate finance mechanisms are not adequate for rewarding their historical conservation and resisting increasing pressures to deforest. It is vital that their access to sufficient climate finance is rapidly improved.
COP 27 presents perhaps the last opportunity to urgently scale up action and finance for forest-based mitigation to achieve the gigaton milestone and avert catastrophic climate change. If we succeed in this goal, vital targets for climate and nature remain within reach.