Reference Levels: Concepts, Functions, and Application in REDD+ and Forest Carbon Standards

This paper is the second in an evolving series surveying forest carbon standards for their insight relevant to results-based payments for REDD+. The objective of this paper is to assess how different results-based initiatives deal with common Reference Level (RL) design problems in order to inform REDD+ negotiations and policymakers. It is also intended to serve as a reference for a consolidated overview of options for constructing RLs, and enhance understanding of how their different forms and function will impact the overall design of REDD+ mechanisms. The first paper, “Standards for Results-Based REDD+ Finance, Overview and Design Parameters” by Charlotte Streck and John Costenbader, was published in December 2012. The current paper presents a deeper analysis of establishing RLs within the REDD+ standards and initiatives presented in the first paper.