The exclusion of a mechanism to deal with tropical deforestation in the Kyoto Protocol has been central to the discussion over amending this international climate change treaty. On Tuesday, September 25th, Jonah Busch of Conservation International (CI) visited UVA to discuss Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), his organization’s method for addressing this issue.
Busch gave three presentations, the earlier two focused specifically on deforestation issues, first in economic terms and later exploring the conservation aspects of the REDD plan.
“REDD was born in December of 2005,” said Busch. “Papua, New Guinea and Costa Rica proposed at a climate convention [that] the rich countries pay poor countries to stop deforesting.”
After this convention, CI asked Busch to write a 10-page memo on the significance of this blossoming program to non-profits.
The financial incentive of REDD is divided between the national government and local participants who voluntarily chose to lower emissions. It is rewarded based on how much a participant drops their emissions below a specified reference level for that country.
This method for climate control gained attention as time went on; however, in 2009 the growing hope that it would be included in either United States domestic climate policy or in a global treaty on climate was shattered. Busch remembers this as a low point in his work with CI.
“To get that close and to have failed was just really heartbreaking,” said Busch. However, he continued to strive for the success of the program. “It’s nearly pathological among the people that I work with, we just have to be optimistic. There’s no other way to be.”
While there is no global treaty on REDD yet, Busch has been working with countries to help implement the program individually.
Busch said that he finds working to prevent deforestation incredibly fulfilling and, in his third presentation at UVA, he discussed ways students could get into similar fields and what that work would be like. He placed an emphasis on the need for future conservationists to approach environmental protection from more than just a scientific angle.
“It’s not enough to know how birds behave or fish behave. You have to know how people behave,” said Busch. “People aren’t just going to do the intent of the policies that you bring in place, they’ll work around them somehow.”
While environmental work is bleak and can often be cynical, Busch is confident that progress is inevitable.
“The climate change problem is getting worse and worse, its’ getting more and more noticeable and politicians are going to have to stop ignoring it at some point,” said Busch. “Once they do they’ll come back to the groundwork that we’ve been laying.”
To read Busch’s report on his work with REDD in Indonesia visit: http://people.virginia.edu/~wms5f/files/Busch_et_al_2012.pdf