An Analysis of China’s Legal and Policy Framework for the Sustainability of Foreign Forest Carbon Projects

in Climate Law
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China’s policymakers regard forest carbon sequestration as one of the most cost-effective ways to combat climate change. Yet, scholars argue that foreign forest carbon projects in developing countries are environmentally and socially unsustainable. This paper explores China’s policy and legal framework for the sustainability of forest carbon projects that utilize international carbon-certification schemes. It finds that while China’s government has set ambitious climate goals for the forest sector, the applicable regulations are not comprehensively developed, and risks of unsustainability exist in practice. The government should undertake comprehensive institutional reform, including reform to establish implementation regulations for redd projects, adjust laws on forest and land to address climate risks, set up regulatory social-impact assessments, and create a greater demand for private forest sustainability assessments.1