Local Roles & Responsibilities in Managing the Planet's Terrestrial Carbon Stocks

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While there is no longer significant disagreement that agriculture, forestry and other land-use (AFOLU) contribute towards at least a quarter of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and, therefore, their reduction, combined with AFOLU's emissions removal potential, require that at least a third of the mitigation wedge, anticipated for meeting UNFCCC's and President Obama's 2050 GHG stabilization target, focus on this land use sector.

Beyond this consensus, however, disagreements linger over the following four implementation priorities:

  1. Should the initial emphasis go towards reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) because of the massive and immediate opportunity costs of D & D, or should the longer term benefits a/reforestation (A/R) get equal time and attention?
  2. Where and how should REDD and A/R intersect on the ground? Should only threatened forests receive credits, or should their also be rewards for continuing good behavior? Where that good behavior has been shoulder by forest peoples, then should they not also be encouraged to seek A/R benefits alongside their REDD perimeters?
  3. Contrary to most existing statutes in the tropics, should not these forest and land managers be seen as "owning" the perimeters for which only they are in a position take full PES responsibility? How can this be, where so many planners are prioritizing "empty" zones for REDD attention? Should not concessional "adaptation" funds be used to make these land mangers carbon "REDDy" for mitigation market participation rather than just compensating them for losses of livelihood, food and health security?
  4. Are existing technologies for AFOLU carbon accounting adequate for measuring AFOLU assets for these markets, especially if their ground-truth must be handled by with the participation of these deputized local land managing organizations?

If the answer to the last question is yes, then some clarity can perhaps be achieved for the other three.