Forests, carbon markets, and avoided deforestation: Legal implications

Forestry and agriculture contribute significantly to the World’s emissions in greenhouse gases. But they also hold the potential to play an important part in climate change mitigation. The Kyoto Protocol addresses land-use only unsatisfactorily and does not create any incentives for reductions of forest-based emissions in developing countries, where tropical deforestation alone contributes to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Negotiators have acknowledged the importance of addressing emissions from deforestation in the context of a post-Kyoto agreement. But in order to effectively reduce emissions from the land-use sector while stimulating further sequestration, it is essential not only to reduce emissions for deforestation, but also to stimulate sustainable agricultural practices and forest management, and to trigger afforestation. How successful such mechanism will be, will depend on a smart set of incentives. Any effort to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation will have to rely on joint action by private and public actors, and it is important to create a set of tools and mechanism that effectively stimulate change on all levels of society. Carbon markets may play an important role in the definition of such mechanisms.

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