IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

Effectiveness of and experience with climate policies, potentials, barriers and opportunities/implementation issues

Forestry can make a very significant contribution to a low cost global mitigation portfolio that provides synergies with adaptation and sustainable development. Chapter 9 of this report identifies a whole set of options and policies to achieve this mitigation potential. However, this opportunity has so far not been taken because of the current institutional context, lack of incentives for forest managers and lack of enforcement of existing regulations. Without better policy instruments, only a small portion of this potential is likely to be realized.

Realization of the mitigation potential requires institutional capacity, investment capital, technology, R&D and transfer, as well as appropriate (international) policies and incentives. In many regions, their absence has been a barrier to implementation of forestry-mitigation activities. Notable exceptions exist, however, such as regional successes in reducing deforestation rates and implementing afforestation programmes (high agreement, much evidence).

Multiple and location-specific strategies are required to guide mitigation policies in the sector. The optimum choices depend on the current state of the forests, the dominant drivers of forest change, and the anticipated future dynamics of the forests within each region. Participation of all stakeholders and policy-makers is necessary to promote mitigation projects and design an optimal mix of measures. Integration of mitigation in the forestry sector into land-use planning could be important in this respect.

Most existing policies to slow tropical deforestation have had minimal impact due to lack of regulatory and institutional capacity or countervailing profitability incentives. In addition to more dedicated enforcement of regulations, well-constructed carbon markets or other environmental service payment schemes may help overcome barriers to reducing deforestation by providing positive financial incentives for retaining forest cover.

There have been several proposals to operationalize activities post 2012, including market-based as well as non-market based approaches; for example, through a dedicated fund to voluntarily reduce emissions from deforestation. Policy measures such as subsidies and tax exemptions have been used successfully to encourage afforestation and reforestation both in developed and developing countries. Care must be taken, however, to avoid possible negative environmental and social impacts of large-scale plantation establishment.

Despite relative low costs and many potential positive side effects of afforestation and reforestation under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), not many project activities are yet being implemented due to a number of barriers, including the late agreement on and complexity of the rules governing afforestation and reforestation CDM project activities. The requirements for forestry mitigation projects to become viable on a larger scale include certainty over future commitments, streamlined and simplified rules, and reductions in transaction costs. Standardization of project assessment can play an important role in overcoming uncertainties among potential buyers, investors and project participants (high agreement, medium evidence) [9.6].