Accessibility links

LEAF technical guidance on development of a REDD+ reference level

This document is directed at national and regional governmental staff and partners assigned to the design and implementation of the technical components of a national and subnational REDD+ program. The document is also designed to provide technical guidance to potential project developers and implementers of REDD+ interventions. The focus of the technical information in this document is on how to design and implement a reference level. Details on how to develop a forest carbon monitoring system and MRV system are not provided, however, it will be important for reference level designers to consider how it will interact with these two components.

Decisions from recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings make it clear that a REDD+ ‘reference level’ of emissions and removals must be developed. Within the context of the UNFCCC, REDD+ reference levels are needed for two purposes2: (1) reference levels establish business-as-usual baselines (i.e. emissions scenario in the absence of REDD+ implementation) against which actual emissions are compared, and net emission reductions are estimated as the difference between reference levels and actual emissions; and (2) reference levels are needed to determine the eligibility of countries for international, results-based support for REDD+, and to calculate that support on the basis of measured, reported, and verified (MRV) emission reductions. Thus it is clear that reference levels are a critical determinant of REDD+ financing.

The document is organized into multiple chapters that describe the several components needed to develop a reference level. Although an attempt was made to provide readers of various backgrounds to benefit from all chapters of the document, some users may want to focus their attention on specific sections most relevant to their responsibilities and expertise areas. The document is not a prescriptive step-by- step guide, but rather describes how the technical components of establishing a reference level fits within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) framework and the best practices that can be used to produce transparent, consistent and accurate estimates of historic emissions with low uncertainties that feed into the reference level projection.

Download the document here: LEAF technical guidance on development of a REDD+ reference level