Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation . Its objective is to reduce green house gases. REDD+ is a version that it can deliver "co-benefits" such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation
"Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation " implies a distinction between the two activities. The process of identifying the two is what raises questions about how to measure each within the REDD mechanism, therefore their distinction is vital. Deforestation is the permanent removal of forests and withdrawal of land from forest use. Forest degradation refers to negative changes in the forest area that limit its production capacity.
Development of a REDD mechanism has progressed significantly since 1995 with the set up of a UN programme and various capacity building and research activities. Projects are also being trialled through national government programmes and the private sector. REDD+ is increasingly likely to be included in a post-2012 international climate agreement, yet many challenges are still to be solved. How will the REDD+ mechanism link to existing national development strategies? How can forest communities and indigenous peoples participate in the design, monitoring and evaluation of national REDD+ programmes? How will REDD+ be funded, and how will countries ensure that benefits are distributed equitably among all those who manage the forests? Finally, how will the amount of carbon stored and sequestrated as a result of REDD+ be monitored?
REDD is sometimes presented as an "offset" scheme of the carbon markets and thus, would produce carbon credits. Carbon offsets are “emissions-saving projects or programmes” that in theory would “compensate” for the polluters’ emissions. The “carbon credits” generated by these projects could then be used by industrialised governments and corporations to meet their targets and/or to be traded within the carbon markets. However this perspective on REDD+ is contested and hotly debated among economists, scientists and negotiators. Recent studies indicate such an offset approach based on projects would significantly increase the transaction costs associated to REDD+ and would actually be the weakest alternative for a national REDD+ architecture as regards effectiveness, efficiency, its capacity to deliver co benefits (like development, biodiversity or human rights) and its overal political legitimacy.
In recent years, estimates for deforestation and forest degradation were shown to account for 20-25% of greenhouse gas emissions, higher than the transportation sector. Recent work shows that the combined contribution of deforestation , forest degradation and peatland emissions accounts for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as the transportation sector. Even with these new numbers it is increasingly accepted that mitigation of global warming will not be achieved without the inclusion of forests in an international regime. As a result, it is expected to play a crucial role in a future successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.