Need some help muddling through Shakespeare? Pick up the CliffsNotes. But what if you want to examine the international economic incentives being developed to reduce deforestation and combat climate change? Then OSIRIS can help you understand.
OSIRIS (Open Source Impacts of REDD Incentives Spreadsheet) is a tool developed by a partnership of researchers from Conservation International (CI), the Center for Social and Economic Research on the Environment at the University of East Anglia, Woods Hole Research Center, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Terrestrial Carbon Group. It was developed to support United Nations’ negotiations on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), a mechanism designed to financially compensate countries that reduce carbon emissions from deforestation.
Economics and Excel
Simply put, OSIRIS analyzes how much countries would get paid by various REDD initiatives to leave their forests intact, and by how much carbon emissions would be reduced as a result. OSIRIS calculates these values based on local and global market conditions, as well as proposed REDD rules (such as benchmarks for carbon reduction and participant eligibility standards).
However, unlike most economic or climate change models that are written in arcane programming languages, OSIRIS’s platform is recognizable to – and can be downloaded by – almost everyone. It’s a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. A user can define any of the values used to calculate REDD payments, carbon emission levels, or deforestation rates by simply clicking a cell on the spreadsheet. The outcome of alternate REDD policies, or different market scenarios can be quite easily compared.
DOWNLOAD: Open Source Impacts of REDD Incentives Spreadsheet - OSIRIS v2.6 - August 2009 (ZIP - 6.10 MB)
LEARN MORE and download past versions: OSIRIS and the Collaborative Modeling Initiative on REDD Economics
But why would anyone be interested in doing so?
The upcoming U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) scheduled for December in Copenhagen is a big reason. As a result of the negotiations that will occur at the conference, vast swaths of tropical forests will stand or fall; tens of billions of dollars will change hands; and the resulting impact on the climate will affect the lives and economies of billions of people – all based on the REDD market rules and design options that are ultimately chosen.
Given this broad impact, almost everyone in the global community is a stakeholder in the process. So perhaps everyone should have the opportunity to scrutinize those rules and their outcomes.
Making it Accessible
Such wide-ranging participation is exactly what the design team behind OSIRIS envisioned, holding meetings everywhere from a castle in Austria to a coffee shop in Washington D.C.
LEARN MORE: Find out CI's strategy to mitagate climate change.
Not only would an accessible, transparent tool like OSIRIS democratize the science behind REDD policy development, it would also allow the improvement of OSIRIS itself. One of the benefits of the open-source process is that anyone “looking under the hood” can contribute suggestions and improvements. Thus, OSIRIS has continued to evolve as user feedback and input is incorporated into the design.
Combating Climate Change
OSIRIS will play a role in determining the rules of the carbon market in Copenhagen; however, it will also potentially continue to play a role in developing the more detailed rules that will be negotiated in the years that follow.
IN DEPTH: Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)
Perhaps the most significant work will begin when the rules are implemented on the ground, country by country. OSIRIS will then be adapted to support the development and implementation of programs to reduce deforestation on the national level.
Just as the writings of Shakespeare had a message for the masses, the need for solutions to climate change speaks to everyone. There have long been tools to enable people other than scholars to understand Shakespeare; now there is also a means for people other than economists or scientists to examine the implications of policies affecting climate change. With OSIRIS, everyone is invited to join the conversation.
READ MORE: Developing Climate-Smart Plans
For the most current version or to view past versions of the spreadsheet, visit our OSIRIS page: OSIRIS and the Collaborative Modeling Initiative on REDD Economics