Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Progress on REDD+ in Durban

From the COP17 decisions posted on the UNFCCC website, it is evident that COP 17 made good progress in REDD+ in both the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action and in the SBSTA.

Holding Pattern for REDD Financing under the Decisions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on LongTerm Cooperative Action

Approval of multiple sources of finance for REDD+, including public and private, bilateral and multi-lateral. Paragraph 66 notes that "... appropriate market-based approaches could be developed by the Conference of Parties to support results-based actions in developing country Parties .... (while paragraph 67) notes that "... non market based approaches ... could be developed."

The AHWG-LCA asked that interested parties and observers should submit their views to the Secretariat, the Secretariat should prepare a technical paper for consideration at a workshop, a workshop report should be prepared, and all of this should be considered by the SBSTA at its next meeting.

See Section C, pages 12-13.

Clarity on REDD+ Safeguards and Reference Emission Levels under the SBSTA
The SBSTA provided new guidance on the systems that countries should use in their REDD+ strategies or action plans to provide information on how safeguards are addressed and respected. The safeguards are detailed in paragraph 2 of Appendix I of the Cancun Agreement from 2010, and include issues related to transparent governance structures, respect for the the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, conservation of biological diversity, and minimizing leakage and reversals. http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2010/cop16/eng/07a01.pdf#page=2

The SBSTA also provided direction on the modalities that countries should use to specify forest reference emission levels (which requires very good data on changes in forest stocks) or forest reference levels (which only requires data on forest stocks). Countries are allowed to adopt processes that match with the sophistication of their monitoring and measurement systems, including situations in which they are only able to measure and monitor for part of their national territories. As improvements in data and data management systems are put in place, countries can update the methods that they use to estimate the forest reference levels, or forest reference emission levels.


Review of agriculture successes in Durban

If you are interested in agriculture, climate change, and the progress at Durban check out the CCAFS blog at:


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Durban Agreement -- A bigger opening for agriculture

As I discussed in previous blogs, the agricultural community were out in force in side events in Durban, lobbying for the SBSTA to be mandated to undertake a work program on agriculture. The report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Coooperative Action (AHWG-LCA) (see link below) shows that significant progress was achieved, with a clear opening for agriculture to be discussed by the SBSTA.

Section D on "Cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions" includes the following statement on agriculture.

"69. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to consider issues related to agriculture at its thirty-sixth session, with the aim of exchanging views andthe Conference of the Parties adopting a decision on this matter at its eighteenth session;

70. Invites Parties and accredited observer organizations to submit to the secretariat, by 5 March 2012, their views on the issues referred to in paragraph 69 above;

71. Requests the secretariat to compile submissions referred to in paragraph 70 above byParties into a miscellaneous document for consideration by the Subsidiary Body forScientific and Technological Advice at its thirty-sixth session;"

Agencies and countries most interested in getting action on agriculture through the COP process now have until 5 March 2012 to have their say in formal submissions to the SBSTA, for real discussion during the SBSTA meeting in June 2012, and toward a decision at COP18 a year from now.

Lets see how the Climate Smart Agriculture idea fares through that process.


Another chance for a multilateral approach to climate change

The Durban Platform, signed after 60 gruelling hours of non-stop negotiations at COP 17 in Durban, represents a breakthrough for multi-lateral action against climate change. The Platform commits all countries to undertake action to mitigate climate change, with a new legal instrument to be put in place by 2015, to come into legal force by 2020. In the meantime, the European Union committed itself to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, to follow immediately upon the end of the first commitment period, December 2012. These are significant achievements for the multilateral approach to tackling climate change.

It is fitting that the EU took the lead in negotiating the deal that yielded the Durban Platform. The EU is the only region that has taken on real costs to mitigate GHG emissions, and European countries have shown greatest commitment to supporting developing countries to adapt to climate change. The EU, unlike countries like Canada and the US, had real legitimacy in taking this leadership role. The lead negotiator for the EU, Connie Hedegaard of Denmark, had a clear and direct manner in the negotiations, as well as a high personal stake in the success of the negotiation process. Ms. Hedegaard chaired COP15 in Copenhagen, where she was seen to have failed to broker an agreement. President Obama eventually sidelined her when he brokered the so-called Copenhagen Concensus, which simply asked countries to specify non-binding emission reduction targets.

After the near-fiasco of Copenhagen, it seemed to many, including me, that the multi-lateral approach to tackling climate change was dieing. Lets hope that countries heed the urgent call to action that the Durban Platform calls for.

Check out this website to see a copy of the Durban Platform.

The Guardian has very good coverage of the deal-making processes that unfolded in Durban:

Friday, December 9, 2011

COP tending toward the fund-based approach to financing REDD+

Discussions of REDD+ occurred in two places in COP17: a contact group under SBSTA and a contact group under the ADWG-LCA. The SBSTA group made good progress on reference levels and safeguards and passed a decision for the COP to consider. The ADWG-LCA considered financing and came up with a less conclusive decision, essentially postponing a final decision to a later meeting of the COP. However, brackets around the whole text show that there is general agreement on this as the best way forward.

The December 7th version of the Amalgamated draft text from the chair of the ADWG-LCA (see reference below) indicates that the negotiators are tending away from market-based toward fund-based approaches to financing. That is, they are calling for the UNFCCC secretariat to develop a technical paper and workshop that will consider all possibilities of raising public funds for REDD+, hoping that public sources (including the Adaptation and Green Climate Fund) can be adequate for the “full implementation” of a results-based approach to supporting actions by developing countries. Responsibility for review of the paper and a final decision would be taken up by SBSTA at its next meeting.

Fund versus market finance has been a long-standing topic in REDD+ discussions. Big advantages of the fund approach are adaptability to national circumstances in both developed and developing countries, its ability to pre-finance upfront investments in governance and capacity that are needed to made REDD+ viable, and its ability to fund public, private and community action at the national level. It is generally assumed, however, that market-based approaches would be necessary to generate the amount of resources needed to fully implement REDD+.

Personally, I hope that the process ends up with a viable fund approach. The fund approach has so far generated positive developments in many countries (eg Norway's agreements with Brazil, Guyana, Tanzania), showing that it pays to take care with accountability in financial management to adapt funding arrangements to national circumstances. The REDD+ Partnership shows that Norway is not the only country willing to dedicate public funds to REDD+. On the other hand the market-based approach failed to finance A/R under the Clean Development Mechanism; the experience with 'carbon cowboys' from the REDD+ pilot activities -- see my previous blog on this topic -- would be magnified under a market-based approach.

Update of the amalgamation of draft texts in preparation of a comprehensive and balanced outcome to be presented to the Conference of the Parties for adoption at its seventeenth
Session, Pp 33-34.

FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/CRP.38, 7, pp. 33-34 , December 2011

C. Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why a work program on agriculture?

Over the last few days there has been considerable to the idea of mandating a work program on agriculture. This is one of a long list of topics under negotiation under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action. Relative to the other tricky issues being negotiated under the AHWG-LCA, agriculture is a relatively minor topic.

An array of international agricultural organizations, international "elders" and countries are calling for the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to be mandated to include a work program on agriculture. Proponents hope that having a work program will contribute to the following objectives:
a) recognize the vulnerability of agriculture and food security to climate change and thus the need to consider new types of risk management tools (eg funds that could be linked to weather-indexed insurance);
b) justify the allocation of substantial funds from the Green Climate Fund for Climate Smart Agriculture in developing countries that can increase productivity, improve resilience, reduce GHG emissions and enhance soil carbon;
c) assist developing countries in their plans to incorporate agriculture in their Nationally-Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs); and
d) develop a mechanism for mitigation finance being used to finance "climate smart agriculture".

Countries indicating strong support for the agriculture work program is the Umbrella Group of Countries (including Australia, the US, New Zealand, Norway) and South Africa. Articulate personalities speakng on behalf of the work program include Andrew Steer (World Bank), Tina Joemat-Pettersson (South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), Kofi Annan (Former UN Secretary General), Meles Zenawi (Prime Minister of Ethiopia), Jacob Zuma (President of South Africa) and Mary Robinson (Former President of Ireland). There are dissenting voices, however. I've been told that the Tanzania negotiator opposes the work program in the negotiations, yet the country's minister of agriculture publically supports the idea.

Some references:
ENB on the Side - Durban Climate Change Conference - November 2011 - Issue #9

The Great Trust Gap

The Indonesian Minister for Environment said it bestat the event that his government sponsored yesterday: the Durban climate change talks are self-destructing due to a lack of trust among the Parties.

The multi-lateral approach to global governance requires a minimum level of trust among countries When countries are perceived as being untrustworthy on matters of security --eg North Korea, Iraq, Libya, the UN security council or NATO may intervene quite firmly. There is no UN environmental security council, countries that commit to environmental agreements in bad faith face few repercussions. Trust can easily break down. It has at COP17.

There is plenty of reasons for lack of trust among the Parties. Consider the case of Canada: we signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol with no clear plan or federal / provincial will to implement it. Canada's emissions keep rising. This damages the trust in Canada among both Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries. Or the Adaptation Fund. Back in 2006, parties agreed to set up an adaptation fund to help poor countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. Six years on, almost no money has been committed. And now the Green Climate Fund: last year Parties agreed to establish this fund to help developing countries with green development, wth quick start funding of $30 billion and up to $200 billion per year by the year 2020. Yet these same Parties are bogged down in the details of how the fund would operate and only modest amounts of funds committed. Developing countries have thus come to feel that they can’t trust developed countries to fulfill pledges for financial assistance for adaptation.

The details matter. Developing countries tend to distrust the existing multi-lateral funds, for example, the Global Environmental Facility and the World Bank Carbon Funds, but it is only those type of funds that developed countries are likely to entrust public funds to. National governments in developed countries are accountable to their taxpayers and want to know that the funds they provide will be used effectively. The funds tht are available tend to be focused on market-based approaches to mitigation, the priority of Annex 1 countries, rather than adaptation which is the priority of developing countries (eg CDM, REDD+).

Without trust in multi-lateral approaches, it appears that countries are tending toward the establishment of bilateral agreements. For example, the Government of Norway has established bilateral agreements with Brazil, Guyana and Tanzania that provide hundreds of millions of dollars to REDD+. The Governments of Switzerland and Philippines have agreed on a similar bilateral agreement that covers mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer.

We live in an increasingly globalized society, economy and environment. Trust in multi-lateral approaches is more important than ever.