Think Africa, Think Mitigation

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Photo: Tropical forestThis weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on the `Transformational Priorities for Africa in a Changing Climate’ as part of the World Bank Group Spring meetings in Washington DC.  In my remarks, I spoke on how Africa is often perceived as a place which offers only adaptation opportunities. I argued that the continent offers mitigation opportunities too – especially in the area of deforestation.


We all know that deforestation and forest degradation cause 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By using Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanisms to save half of this, we could reduce global emissions by at least 10%. This translates into a huge potential for Africa.


To deal with this, we need to understand the drivers of deforestation. Only 6% of Congolese have access to electricity. The rest depend on forests for energy and livelihoods. According to our second national communication, 300 million tons of CO2 is emitted every year from deforestation in DRC. By addressing drivers of deforestation in DRC and reducing deforestation, let’s say by 30%, we could avoid emissions of about 100 million tons of CO2. At a carbon price of $10 per ton, we could generate US$1 billion, which is 10% of our GDP. The potential of this is very clear.


For this scenario to work, financing needs to be scaled up for REDD. I know that the World Bank has the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the Forest Investment Program (FIP).  New mechanisms need to be put in place for increased transparency, inclusion and independent execution. A clear political commitment to a robust REDD mechanism is required. It works differently for different countries and involves trade-offs. In DRC, 80% of forests are “protected areas” (they are not allocated to any specific use or right) and only 20% are under specific status (10% logging concession, 10% conservation). So, 80% of the entire economy of forest sector remains to be designed and set up, which leaves a lot of space for REDD to trigger transformation.


Money for REDD should be both new and additional. The Paris-Oslo initiative with six REDD partners (US, Norway, UK, France, Australia, Japan) and a commitment of US$4 billion is the way to go but it is still not enough. According to the Informal Working Group on Interim Finance for REDD, there is need for US$20-35 billion between 2010 and 2015 to reduce deforestation by 25%. This means, we have to innovate to mobilize additional sources of funds. New financial mechanisms like levies on air and maritime transport, and taxes on financial transactions need to be considered to make this work.


I strongly believe Africa has to rely on public funding. We believe markets have no heart, that is, they are just motivated by opportunities to reduce emissions at the lowest cost, regardless of associated social benefits. Maybe, in later stages we could have private markets.


Of course, we have to look in the mirror when we talk about all this. We need an enabling and business-friendly environment, characterized by transparency and good governance and a strong financial system to make all of this work.


Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu

Chair, African Group on Climate Change Negotiations

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