Jump to Navigation

Below is a directory of terms used in the debate about reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Most of the terms have been reproduced from the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and the Meridian Institute.

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world today. Long-term development planning must now include measures to deal with it.


3E criteria

The 3E criteria — effectiveness in reducing emissions, cost efficiency, equity — were first used in the Stern Report to evaluate global greenhouse gas reductions schemes. These criteria have been used to evaluate options for a REDD global architecture.




Adjustment of natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change, or its effects, that lessens damage or exploits beneficial opportunities.


Measurable, long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions and/or removal enhancements that would not have occurred in the absence of a particular project, policy or activity.


Afforestation is defined under the Kyoto Protocol as the direct human-induced conversion of non-forest land to permanent forested land (for a period of at least 50 years).


AFOLU is the acronym for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses recommended by the IPCC in 2006 as a new term covering LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) and agriculture.

Annex I Parties

Industrialised countries that, as parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000 to 1990 levels. Annex I Parties consist of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and countries designated as 'economies in transition'.

Annex II Parties

List established under the UNFCCC of industrialised countries, excluding economies in transition, that are to provide new and additional resources to help developing countries meet existing commitments under the UNFCCC.

Avoided deforestation

This occurs where land that would otherwise have been deforested is not because of a change in policy, funding, etc.



Bali Action Plan

One part of the Bali Roadmap, the Bali Action Plan is the name given to a decision taken by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC that specifically concerns negotiations on future amendments of the convention itself. The decision establishes an Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action to consider specific issues, also set out in the Action Plan, with a view to reaching agreement at the UNFCCC negotiations to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Bali roadmap

The collection of decisions and conclusions adopted by the parties to the UNFCCC and to the Kyoto Protocol at the 2007 UNFCCC conference in Bali, Indonesia. The roadmap provides a process for agreeing future revisions and additions to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. It sets the aim of finalising all post-2012 discussions by the UNFCCC negotiations to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009.


Also called 'reference line', a baseline can refer to three concepts: (i) the historical baseline, that is, the rate of deforestation and forest degradation (DD) and the resulting CO2 emissions over the past x years; (ii) the projected DD under a business-as-usual scenario; and (iii) a benchmark for rewarding the country (or project).


The number of living organisms, and the variability among them and their environments.

Biological Diversity

Biological Diversity — more commonly known as biodiversity — is a collective term used to describe the totality and variety of living organisms on Earth. Biodiversity is usually classified at three levels — genes, species and ecosystems.



Cap and trade

An emissions trading system where an international or national regulator establishes an overall cap on emissions, issues emission units or rights, and allows the transfer and acquisition of such rights.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

The greenhouse gas whose concentration is being most affected directly by human activities. Carbon dioxide also serves as the reference to compare all other greenhouse gases (see carbon dioxide equivalents). The major source of carbon dioxide emissions is fossil fuel combustion. Carbon dioxide emissions are also a product of forest clearing, biomass burning, and non-energy production processes such as cement production. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have been increasing at a rate of about 0.5 per cent per year, and are now about 30 per cent above pre-industrial levels.

Carbon markets

Any market in which carbon emissions trading, usually in the form of carbon credits, takes place. Markets consist of voluntary markets (where emissions reductions targets are not regulated) and compliance markets (where carbon credits are traded to meet regulated emissions reductions targets). The largest carbon market is currently (2009) the EU's Emissions Trading System.

Carbon Sequestration

The uptake and storage of carbon. Trees and plants, for example, absorb carbon dioxide, release the oxygen and store the carbon. Fossil fuels were at one time biomass and continue to store the carbon until burned.

Carbon Sinks

Carbon reservoirs and conditions that take in and store more carbon (carbon sequestration) than they release. Carbon sinks can serve to partially offset greenhouse gas emissions. Forests and oceans are common carbon sinks.

Carbon source

A reservoir that gives up carbon to another reservoir within the carbon cycle. For example, if the net exchange is between the biosphere and the atmosphere is towards the ocean, then the atmosphere is the source.

Carbon Stock

Carbon stocks include carbon stored in vegetation (above and below ground), decomposing matter, soil, wood products and the carbon substituted by burning wood for energy instead of fossil fuels.

Certified Emission Reduction (CER)

A CER is a unit of greenhouse gas reductions that has been generated and certified under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). One CER equals one tonne of carbon. Two special types of CERs can be issued for net emission removals from afforestation and reforestation CDM projects: (i) temporary certified emission reduction (tCERs); and (ii) long-term certified emission reductions (lCERs)

Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM)

Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol provides for the CDM, which would enable developed countries to invest in emissions reducing projects in developing countries in order to obtain credit to put towards meeting their assigned targets. The details of the CDM have yet to be negotiated, but in principle allows countries to use credits obtained from the year 2000 to meet their Kyoto targets, if they choose to do so.


Benefits from implementing REDD schemes beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as poverty alleviation, biodiversity protection and improvement in forest governance.

CO2 equivalent

Not all greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere equally — methane for example, has a greater warming effect than carbon dioxide. CO2 equivalent, or 'CO2e' accounts for this and means that other greenhouse gases can be converted to the equivalent amount of CO2, based on their relative contribution to global warming. This provides for a single, uniform means of measuring emissions reductions for multiple greenhouse gases.

Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN)

A collaboration between developing nations that contain rainforests to reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. As of November 2008, participants included 41 countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania. Sometimes the coalition acts as a single group in UNFCCC negotiations. It is behind a number of REDD submissions.

Compliance-grade MRV

A monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) process that ensures reliable climate benefit associated with real and measurable emission reductions, and enhancement of removals (quantified in tons of CO2 equivalent).

Conference of the Parties (COP)

The collection of nations that have ratified the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), that was signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The COP currently has more than 150 countries represented, and about 50 additional observer states. Its primary role is to keep the implementation of the Convention under review and to take the decisions necessary for the effective implementation of the Convention.




The practices or processes that result in the change of forested lands to non-forest uses. This is often cited as one of the major causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect, on the grounds that the burning or decomposition of the wood releases carbon dioxide, and that trees that once removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the process of photosynthesis are no longer present and contributing to carbon storage.


See 'Leakage'



Ecosystem services

See 'Environmental services'

Emission Trading

The Kyoto Protocol allows Parties listed in Annex B to participate in trading of their assigned amounts for the purposes of fulfilling their emissions commitments. Parties buying parts of assigned amounts can add these to their assigned amounts under the Protocol, while Parties selling must deduct them. Such trading must be supplemental to domestic actions. The COP is to define the rules and modalities for trading.

Environmental services

Natural processes carried out by ecosystems that support all life on Earth. Environmental services include water supply, cycling of soil nutrients, pollination, natural means of pest control and carbon sequestration. Conservationists and some economists argue that these services have a monetary value, which ought to be included in a country's national accounts.



Forest degradation

See 'Degradation'



Global Environment Facility (GEF)

A global, three-dimensional computer model of the climate system that can be used to simulate human-induced climate change. GCMs are highly complex, and represent the effects of such factors as reflective and absorptive properties of atmospheric water vapour, greenhouse gas concentrations, clouds, annual and daily solar heating, ocean temperatures and ice boundaries. The most recent GCMs include global representations of the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface.

Global Warming

An increase in the near-surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently concluded that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases are causing an increase in the Earth's surface temperature and that increased concentrations of sulphate aerosols have led to relative cooling in some regions, generally over and downwind of heavily industrialised areas.

Greenhouse Gas

Any gas that absorbs infra-red radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, halogenated fluorocarbons, ozone, perfluorinated carbons, and hydrofluorocarbons.



Indigenous peoples

The (original) inhabitants of a particular geographical location, who have a specific and distinctive culture and belief system of their own.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The IPCC was established jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988. Its purpose is to assess information in the scientific and technical literature related to all significant components of the issue of climate change. The IPCC draws upon hundreds of expert scientists as authors and thousands as expert reviewers. Leading experts on climate change and environmental, social, and economic sciences from some 60 nations have helped the IPCC to prepare periodic assessments of the scientific underpinnings for understanding global climate change and its consequences. With its capacity for reporting on climate change, its consequences, and the viability of adaptation and mitigation measures, the IPCC is also looked to as the official advisory body to the world's governments on the state of the science of the climate change issue. [Source: IPCC]



Joint Implementation

The process permitted under the Kyoto Protocol (q.v.) under which developed countries can invest in projects in other developed countries to acquire credits to assists in meeting their assigned target reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Countries can only use credits generated in the commitment period of 2008 to 2012. Participation is voluntary.



Kyoto Protocol

The international agreement, reached in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, which extends the commitments of the UNFCCC originally made at the Earth Summit in 1992. In particular, it sets targets for future emissions of greenhouse gases by the developed countries.




Leakage occurs when a reduction of emissions in one area leads to an increase in emissions from another. For example, a REDD project that protects one forest but leads to increased deforestation elsewhere. Also known as displacement.


The obligation of the REDD implementing project or country to ensure that any credited emission reductions are permanent.


Acronym for land use, land-use change and forestry, which is a recognised category of activities that can contribute to both greenhouse gas emissions and emissions removals. The other main categories are energy-related emissions (both production and consumption), agriculture and waste-related activities.




An anthropogenic (i.e. derived from human activities) intervention to reduce the emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.



Non-Annex I parties

Developing countries not listed in Annex I to the UNFCCC. These countries do not have binding emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol.




Individual members of a legal agreement, such as the member states of an international law agreement like the UNFCCC.

Payments for Environmental Services (PES)

Schemes where beneficiaries of environmental services pay those who manage them to ensure the services continue.


Wetlands where the soil is highly organic because it is formed mostly from partly decomposed plants.


The duration and non-reversibility of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Non-permanence can be seen as a form of leakage.

Planted forest

Woodland where trees have been established through planting or seeding.




REDD country actions including a process of policy design, consultation and consensus building, and testing and evaluation for a REDD national strategy prior to scaled-up REDD implementation.


Also called REDD+, these proposals encompass REDD activities, but also include consideration of the role of conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

Reduced impact logging (RIL)

Planned and carefully controlled tree felling to minimise environmental impact. RIL can also reduce carbon emissions from logging.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD)

REDD refers to mechanisms currently being negotiated under the UNFCCC process to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD may refer to a broad set of approaches and actions that will achieve this, but the core idea is to create performance-based mechanisms that reward projects or countries that produce emission reductions.

Reducing emissions from deforestation (RED)

Initial REDD proposals that only considered reducing emissions from deforestation but not forest degradation.

Reference level/line

See 'baseline'.


Reforestation is the human-induced conversion of non-forested land to forested land through planting or seeding on land that was once forested, but has been converted to non-forested land. In the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, reforestation activities have been defined as reforestation of lands that were not forested on 31 December 1989, but have had forest cover at some point during the past 50 years.

Reverse leakage

A mitigation activity that results in emission reductions in areas outside the original mitigation area. Also called 'positive leakage'.



Stern Report/Review

The Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change was commissioned by the British government and published in 2006. Written by the economist Lord Stern of Brentford, it discusses the effect of climate change and global warming on the world economy.

Subsidiary body

A committee that assists the conference of the parties. Two permanent ones are defined by the Convention on Climate Change: the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).




A collaborative programme for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, UN-REDD is operated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The programme has developed a multi-donor trust fund (established July 2008) to pool resources and provide funding to REDD activities.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The international treaty signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in June 1992. The UNFCCC commits signatory countries to stabilise anthropogenic (i.e. human-induced) greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The UNFCCC also requires that all signatory parties develop and update national inventories of anthropogenic emissions of all greenhouse gases not otherwise controlled by the Montreal Protocol.




Independent third party assessment of the expected or actual emission reduction of a particular mitigation activity.

Voluntary Measures

Measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are adopted by firms or other actors in the absence of government mandates. Voluntary measures help make climate-friendly products or processes more readily available or encourage consumers to incorporate environmental values in their market choices.


The degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity and its adaptive capacity.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut