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Overseeing International Forest Offsets

Jun 26, 2009

Overseeing International Forest Conservation Programs
RFF Feature
June 26, 2009

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforestTropical deforestation and land use changes account for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing deforestation is one of the more affordable mitigation strategies because it can be accomplished easily and affordably with existing technologies. Accordingly, international forest offsets and set-asides are a key element of climate change policy proposals, like The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454).

But as regulatory proposals to monitor and incentivize forest conservation circulate, questions emerge. Who can best manage the environmental aspects of an international forest program? Can the same entity also handle the geopolitical issues inherent to creating an international carbon market in developing nations?

In "Managing Climate-Related International Forest Programs," RFF researchers Nigel Purvis, Ray Kopp, and Andrew Stevenson suggest the best way to ensure the successful implementation of international forest carbon programs is to create a new U.S. regulatory entity to oversee their administration.

According to authors, "Existing federal agencies are ill-equipped to manage new programs in ways that produce genuine climate change benefits, reduce the cost of climate action for the United States, and advance other foreign policy objectives, including poverty alleviation and economic development."

To address the issue of improperly suited agencies, Purvis, Kopp, and Stevenson propose the creation of the International Forest Conservation Corporation, an agency designed to meet the needs of new international forest carbon mandates.

The authors recommend this new entity take on the following functions:

RFF Issue Brief 
Managing Climate-Related International Forest Programs

  • Negotiate and monitor bilateral agreements with developing nations;

  • build capacity and market-readiness in developing nations to prepare countries to participate in global carbon markets;

  • verify benefits for local people and environmental integrity;

  • serve as a financial intermediary to negotiate prices and purchase verified emissions reductions; and

  • monitor volume of offsets to lessen price volatility and maintain market price signals that drive innovation.