Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is primarily a market-based mechanism for achieving the effective reduction of carbon emissions from forests. Increasingly, however, concerns are being raised about the implications of REDD+ for equity, including the importance of equity for achieving effective carbon emission reductions from forests. Equity is a multifaceted concept that is understood differently by different actors and at different scales, and public discourse helps determine which equity concerns reach the national policy agenda. Results from a comparative media analysis of REDD+ public discourse in four countries show that policy makers focus more on international than national equity concerns, and that they neglect both the need for increased participation in decision making and recognition of local and indigenous rights. To move from addressing the symptoms to addressing the causes of inequality in REDD+, policy actors need to address issues related to contextual equity, that is, the social and political root causes of inequality.