need to hit the zero point globally around 2050, give or take a few years. That is a greattransformation in little time and REDD+ could only buy a little time, while possibly – if set upas an offset mechanism – pushing the date of vigorous action back, which comes down towasting that same time again (see next section).
2. Offsets postpone structural changeand may even damage the climate goals.
REDD+ is not (yet) an offset mechanism. While technically speaking, this statement is true,because the Cancun text postpones the UNFCCC decision on this thanks to Bolivia'sopposition, the huge interest in REDD+ is closely linked to the expectation that it would"generate" emissions reductions at much lower cost than other mitigation options. Thisprojection in itself is questionable
, but economists seem to be considered representatives of the highest form of wisdom in our times, so if they say REDD+ will be cheap, it must be so.Their verdict, together with the urgency of climate change and the favourable image thatrainforest protection has in the public sphere, this is quite an attractive package for the bigplayers who are unwilling to change anything major in the way that our fossil economyworks. California is working full speed on bringing tropical forest carbon into its compliancemarket and the US government seems to have put its REDD fast-start finance under theheading „get them into the market“. Take the offsets part out of REDD+ and the whole thingwill deflate like an empty balloon. This is an argument sometimes used: if we can't involvemarkets, we won't get enough money to save the rainforests.The basic task of our generation is to transform a fossil world economy into a renewable one.That task is not facilitated by the availability of cheap offsets on the carbon markets. And onthe markets one ton of carbon from avoided deforestation shall equal one ton of fossil carbonextracted and burnt.
But ("green") forest carbon is not equal to ("black") fossil carbon. Whileone is part of the natural carbon cycle the other is an addition to that cycle. And setting aside
3This has been avoided in the only forestry projects that are allowed in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):Afforestation and Reforestation (A/R) Projects. They produce only temporary credits, due to the fact that trees storecarbon only temporarily. These temporary credits don't fetch a good price on the market, therefore the intention withREDD+ is to make sure that the credits are „for good“ instead of temporary. Obviously trees are still only able to storecarbon temporarily.