Radical New Market-Based Campaign Aims to Make Forests More Valuable Alive than Dead
Code REDD aims for quality, scale, and private sector participation in REDD+ carbon market to save threatened forests
Code REDD: A New Kind of Campaign
Over the past 2 decades, since the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, we have witnessed the launch of many initiatives to stop deforestation. Despite the good intentions of each approach tried, we have continued to lose an area the size of New York City every other day to deforestation. These activities account for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transportation sector.
But last month at Rio+20, we saw the launch of the Code REDD Campaign, a radical new market-based campaign to save the threatened forests of the world. Code REDD aims to make forests more valuable alive than dead by catalyzing demand in the private sector for high quality REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) projects approved by the campaign within the Voluntary Carbon Market.
The Campaign also aims for scale, acknowledging the size and urgency of the deforestation challenge. By enabling corporations to reduce their effective carbon footprint with Verified Emissions Reductions from high quality REDD+ projects, Code REDD will help stop deforestation, protect biodiversity, and promote sustainable development for forest communities at an unprecedented scale.
And therein lies Code REDD’s distinguishing trait: the recognition that economic forces drive deforestation, and we must address those economic forces in our solution. Code REDD has the potential to stop deforestation on a massive scale — protecting forests, communities, biodiversity, and atmospheric CO2 levels while simultaneously allowing the marketplace to continue to provide goods and services to our growing global population without accelerating negative impacts on our climate and environment.
And it does this in a simple way: Finding a means to make forests more valuable alive than dead.
REDD+: Scaling the Solution
REDD+ is an international initiative to make forests more valuable standing than cut down by creating financial value for the carbon stored within them. REDD+ offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and “invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development,” providing the infrastructure for emitters to finance forest conservation through carbon offsets. Moreover, high-quality REDD+ projects approved by the campaign yield multiple co-benefits, including forest conservation, emission mitigation, biodiversity and ecosystem service protection, and sustainable economic development opportunities.
An important key to REDD+ success is project quality and integrity. REDD+ projects must include guidelines and safeguards that ensure real reductions are being met, and that substantial benefits reach the communities that maintain and protect forests and their biodiversity. Code REDD aims to ensure that any project joining the Campaign meets these criteria and more. To join Code REDD, project developers are held accountable to the Campaign’s Code of Conduct in addition to being required to meet the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity certifications.
By scaling high-quality, high-integrity REDD+ projects, Code REDD aims to expand the co-benefits of REDD+ carbon finance to forest ecosystems and communities around the world.
So we have a radical campaign with a new approach to solving the deforestation problem. But where are the incentives to actually get corporates on board?
Code REDD can help companies meet their carbon reduction and sustainability goals by reducing their carbon footprint in a meaningful way. Corporate sustainability action is increasingly important, as showcased by the recent announcement that companies listed on the London Stock Exchange will have to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and companies listed on the NASDAQ can expect similar requirements soon. Sustainability issues are also increasingly important to shareholders, demonstrating the need for corporate action to hedge future sustainability risks.
Moreover, participation in the Code REDD Campaign is CSR action with a story. High quality REDD+ projects provide sustainable development opportunities for some of the world’s most remote communities. Carbon finance provides investments for community development, wildlife conservation, and natural resource management.
Companies that publicize their support of the Code REDD campaign and actively follow the progress of these REDD+ projects may find that they have improved employee morale, increased the level of talent they can attract, and fostered a sense of ‘giving back’ within their workforce. Some corporate champions have even increased revenues by expanding their customer base by providing carbon-neutral products and services through the Code REDD Campaign.
Finally, Code REDD’s corporate champions can leverage the marketing power of a global campaign. Because the Campaign aims to scale a solution to a global problem, Code REDD is building a global reach. With a steadily growing international social media following and a recent celebrity endorsement by professional race car driver and Discovery’s #1 Eco Athlete Leilani Munter at NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, Code REDD provides a growing audience for its corporate champions in the hopes that more will join and pledge to protect some of the most beautiful and threatened places on earth.
“We are in a race against deforestation” Leilani affirmed, adding that “in the time it takes me to finish one race, 7,500 acres of forest will be lost to deforestation.” Since 2007, Münter has adopted an acre of rainforest for every race she runs, and with this new effort she hopes to bring greater awareness to the public about Code REDD, a radical new campaign that is using the power of the marketplace to stop deforestation, protect wildlife, and provide real sustainable development opportunities for forest communities.
“We encourage companies to reduce emissions where they can, but this process can often take years,” noted Karin Burns, Executive Director of the Code REDD Campaign. “While they are doing this, companies can still make meaningful contributions to emissions reductions now by pledging to the Code REDD campaign.”