The principle of providing financial incentives to developing countries to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has gained traction in international climate policy. A decision on its inclusion in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is expected at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next year.
This Opinion points out that REDD is attractive in three ways: the potential for mitigation of climate change, the conservation of biodiversity and from a development perspective. However, the Opinion concludes that REDD readiness requires an understanding first the social, institutional and political conditions that drive land use change and that often operate beyond the forest sector at local, national and international scales. Efforts to deliver an abatement mechanism should wait until there is increased confidence that these drivers can be countered in ways that are both developmentally sound and socially just.