Introduction - Forest Carbon Initiative

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The objective of the Forest Carbon Initiative is to speed the development of large-scale global markets for forest carbon by conducting world-class, interdisciplinary research that helps create strong policy frameworks and accelerates private action, primarily through direct outreach to U.S. and international decisionmakers.

Deforestation accounts for approximately 20 percent of global carbon emissions – an amount greater than the entire transportation sector worldwide. The majority of these emissions come from deforestation in developing countries where forests are being cleared for agriculture, timber and fuel wood.

Analyses examining the cost of forest conservation and restoration activities predict that abating deforestation is a low-cost means of fighting climate change. In contrast to anticipated clean energy technologies which may take decades to develop, forest conservation and reforestation are strategies the world could implement at a global scale both cost-effectively and almost immediately. 

While climate policy frameworks today create few incentives for large-scale forest conservation and restoration, this may be changing. Both the international community and the U.S. Congress are beginning to integrate forestry into greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies. And projects that reduce forestry emissions are already generating saleable credits on the voluntary market. However, the forest carbon market is still less than 0.2% of the $64 billion worldwide market for carbon-denominated assets

For half a century RFF has been a dominant force in developing the field of environmental and natural resource economics. It has been a leader in utilizing economic insights in the design of public policy, and recognizing the power of economic incentives and markets as tools of regulatory policy.

RFF is equally committed to being the leading source of independent research and analysis concerning forest carbon policy and markets. It is determined to have a discernible, positive impact on U.S. and global forest carbon policy framework.

The Forest Carbon Initiative is part of RFF’s Climate Policy Program.  The Program is designed to aid policymakers and stakeholders as they address the wide range, interrelated nature, and uncertain features of climate change.

The Program integrates across multidisciplinary research efforts to focus on the design of effective and efficient domestic and international climate policy; responds to requests for research, analysis, and briefings from policymakers and stakeholders in the U.S. and abroad; analyzes proposed policies in a timely manner; and hosts continuing dialogues among key decisionmakers to elevate the quality of policy discussions.

For more information, please contact RFF Senior Fellow Ray Kopp.