In this peer-reviewed paper, Climate Focus co-director Charlotte Streck discusses the legal context of forest carbon markets and investigates the link between ‘carbon rights’ and various carbon market units. The paper has been published in the Journal Forests, in a Special Issue on REDD+: Protecting Climate, Forests and Livelihoods, edited by Tim Pearson.
The question of who is entitled to benefit from transactions under the United Nations framework to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) remains one of the most controversial issues surrounding cooperative efforts to reduce deforestation in developing countries. This paper seeks to clarify the nature and limitation of rights pertaining to REDD+ market transactions. It also links the notion of carbon rights to both carbon markets and governments’ decisions on benefit sharing.
Applying a legal lens, this paper helps to understand the various claims and underlying rights to participate in REDD+ transactions and addresses ambiguities that can lead to conflict around REDD+ implementation. The definition of carbon rights and the legal nature of carbon credits depend on local law and differ between countries. However, by categorizing carbon rights, the paper summarizes several legal considerations that are relevant for regulating REDD+ and sharing the financial benefits of transacting ERRs.