Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
Forests are an available, effective and cost-efficient key nature-based solution that can provide up to a third of the mitigation required to keep global warming well below 2°C. Forests have a mitigation potential of over 5 GtCO2e per year by halting forest loss and degradation, and sustainable forest management, conservation and restoration (REDD+).
REDD+ is a climate change mitigation solution developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Its framework, the so-called Warsaw Framework was adopted in 2013 at COP 19 in Warsaw and provides the methodological and financing guidance for the implementation of REDD+ activities.
The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes REDD+ and the central role of forests in Article 5.
REDD+ reduces deforestation through the conservation and sustainable management of forests and supporting developing countries in turning their political commitments, as represented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, into action on the ground.
Forests mitigate climate change because of their capacity to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to store it in biomass and soils. When forests are cleared or degraded, they can become a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by releasing that stored carbon. It is estimated that globally, deforestation and forest degradation account for around 11 percent of CO2 emissions.
To date, 118 countries have included forest and land use in their Nationally Determined Contributions pledges. This represents 162 million hectares of restored, reforested and afforested land, which is in line with the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests.
Since 2008 the UN-REDD Programme (UNEP, FAO and UNDP) has been supporting 65 partner countries in their nationally led efforts to become “REDD+ ready” and qualify for results-based payments.
As of today, UN-REDD countries have submitted forest emissions reductions equal to taking 150 million cars off the road for a year. And UN-REDD has channeled and mobilized more than USD 1 billion since inception.
Within the UN-REDD Programme, UNEP leads on private sector engagement, safeguards, knowledge management and communications.
- During 2015–2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year.
- Currently 11% of all carbon emissions stem from deforestation – more than emissions from all means of transport combined.
- Limiting climate change to well below 2C cannot be achieved without REDD+.
- Halting deforestation and forest degradation can avoid emissions of more than 5 gigatons CO2e/year.
- Forest conservation and restoration can provide more than one quarter of the emissions reductions needed in the next two decades.
- The goals of the Paris Agreement cannot be met without the world's forests: their mitigation potential by 2030 is about 5 gigatons/year, on par with that of industry and only behind the energy sector.
- Forests, however, are more than that. Protecting the world's forests is crucial to meet the Sustainable Development Goals: they provide an array of critically important ecosystem services including habitat for biodiversity of global significance and livelihoods for vulnerable and indigenous communities.
- Forests and woodlands are important stores of planet-warming carbon dioxide, soaking up 30 per cent of emissions from industry and fossil fuels. But every year, the world loses 10 million hectares of forests, an area larger than Portugal.
- Deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 11 percent of carbon emissions. If deforestation were a country, it would rank third in carbon dioxide emissions behind China and the United States of America.
- An annual outlay of $1 million in forest management can generate from 500 to 1,000 jobs in many developing countries, and 20 to 100 in most developed and middle-income countries. Investments in forests can become a backbone for COVID-19 recovery efforts in rural economies in developing countries.
For more information visit UN-REDD or learn more about UNEP's work on forests.