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Governance of forests in Brazil and Indonesia

US climate legislation depends on the availability of forest carbon credits for reducing costs within the cap and trade. These international reductions are expected to both provide credits to fill the strategic reserve and to be an important component of the carbon offset portfolio. Without REDD credits, the US emissions trading system will not function as designed, hence costs will be much higher than expected for covered entities and the economy as a whole.

One of the key underplayed issues in the context of reducing emissions from deforestation is the capacity of forest nations to enforce laws on the ground. Without good governance, it will be difficult if not impossible for the international community to use carbon finance, whether public or private to reduce deforestation and the consequent carbon emissions.

A side event put on by Governance of Forests Initiative, a consortium of US, Brazilian, and Indonesian NGOs provided some fact based answers to how Brazil and Indonesia are doing on these issues. The Brazilian assessment was that current land tenure and land management were weak or in a few cases, moderately strong.

The Indonesian assessment was if anything, more grim. There are no legal guarantees of land tenure on Indonesian forests and significant conflicts between Federal and local Adat or customary laws. This is before you even got to the corruption issues that surround on the ground enforcement of the laws.

Not a pretty picture if one expects to have abundant REDD credits in the near term or to make a dent in deforestation emissions from the two largest tropical forest nations. Also a very troubling presentation if one hopes to implement US legislation along the lines of Waxman-Markey.

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