Bali delegates agree to support forests-for-climate (REDD) plan
mongabay.com
December 16, 2007




Delegates meeting at the U.N. climate conference in Bali agreed to include forest conservation in future discussions on a new global warming treaty, reports the Associated Press. The move could lead to the transfer of billions of dollars — in the form of carbon credits — from industrialized countries to tropical nations for the purpose of slowing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation rates. Deforestation presently accounts for roughly 20 percent of anthropogenic emissions worldwide.

While controversial, the program, known as Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), has been widely seen by scientists and environmentalists as a way to address environmental degradation by assigning value to intact ecosystems like rainforests and peat swamps.

"[REDD has] the potential to shift the balance of underlying economic market forces that currently favor deforestation, by raising billions of dollars for the ecosystem services provided by rainforest regions," wrote a team of scientists in a paper published in Science last month.



COMMENTARY FROM THE BALI TALKS:
Gabriel Thoumi, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise


In Bali, we saw the global ability to communicate effectively across all four sectors of society - government, NGOs/communities, business leaders, and scientists - strained because the language of our rhetoric is not effective. Effective definitionally suggests that we are able to state a position, debate its merits, pursue critical thinking mechanistically, and arrive at an improved solution that benefits greater society. This is "rhetorical optimization".

In Bali, we saw the US delegation deliberately shame African delegates during the plenary. We saw the US delegation sneak in last minute language that would have eliminated all binding targets. We saw other delegations act in similar fashions. And to what end?

Clearly, our rhetorical understanding of how to approach climate discussions has focused on an elementary binary decision tree where either "I win, you lose" or "I lose, you win". This has been the US position for quite some time and led one esteemed delegate to describe this US administration as "…the most fact averse in US history".

So even with partial success in Bali, I am not celebrating because the rhetoric around climate change hasn't changed. The developing nations want to be paid to protect their forests and the developed nations want the developing nations to curb their emissions growth. It is a no-win situation globally because there is a distinct lack of accountability. There are no statutory emissions targets.

Rome continues to burn while we, the leaders in this debate, sit and debate whether to put the fire out with tonic water or club soda.

I am gently suggesting that our rhetoric around climate change optimize to exhibit generativeness and a will to develop solutions together.

REDD may have passed but we have no binding emissions limits. Thank you George Bush for your infinite wisdom.
Researchers, together with the UK government's 2005 Stern Review, say that forest protection could be one of the most cost-effective ways to address climate change.

"Conserving tropical forests could ultimately be one of the cheapest ways we have available to slow global warming," said Dr. William Laurance, a biologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute who has co-authored several papers on REDD. "The costs of forest conservation are modest and deforestation is a massive source of emissions, so slowing deforestation is like plucking the low-hanging fruit — there's a lot of benefit for not a lot of cost. And of course we're not just storing carbon; we're also saving the world's most biologically important real estate, providing a place for local and indigenous peoples, and helping to stabilize delicate soils and reduce catastrophic flooding."

Delegates at Bali apparently agreed, recommending that efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation should be "strengthened and supported" but stopping short of calling for anything other than voluntary action on REDD.

REDD still faces many challenges, especially in implementation. Issues range from "permanence" (whether a county can ensure that forest carbon savings are permanent) to "leakage" (what happens when carbon conservation in one area drives deforestation in another?) to baseline data establishment (how does one measure historic deforestation to establish a baseline for calculating reduction?). Further questions over land rights (will REDD trigger a land rush by industrial agriculture giants and forestry firms?) as well as how local communities will benefit (the cost of registering and establishing a REDD project may top $50,000, a nearly insurmountable sum for communities and small-scale forest holders in some of the world's poorest countries) are also valid. There is also ongoing squabbling between a coalition of forest nations and Brazil, which sees REDD as an attempt to limit its economic development of the Amazon rainforest. Some forest-rich countries that have low deforestation rates have expressed concern they will be left out of the process since their forests are not under immediate threat.

Despite these concerns, it appears likely the REDD initiatives will move forward. Last week nine industrialized governments announced plans to put US$165 million (€114 million) toward the World Bank's newly created Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a scheme that will offer tropical countries carbon offset credits to preserve forests. The U.S. did not pledge any funds but some 30 tropical countries in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific stood to benefit from what the World Bank called "the first financial mechanism to pay countries for saving their tropical forests." In the spirit of the progress on REDD, Governors from the Brazilian state of Amazonas and the Indonesian provinces of Aceh, Papua and West Papua agreed to a moratorium on logging until the carbon values of their forest lands is assessed.


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The Conference of the Parties (COP-13) Decision:
Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action


- Advance unedited version -

Recalling the relevant provisions of the Convention, in particular Article 2, Article 3, paragraphs 1, 3 and 4, and Article 4, paragraphs 1(a)-(d), 3, 5 and 7,

Acknowledging the contribution of the emissions from deforestation to global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,

Acknowledging that forest degradation also leads to emissions, and needs to be addressed when reducing emissions from deforestation,

Recognizing that efforts and actions to reduce deforestation and to maintain and conserve forest carbon stocks in developing countries are already being taken,

Recognizing the complexity of the problem, different national circumstances and the multiple drivers of deforestation and forest degradation,

Recognizing the potential role of further actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries in helping to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention,

Affirming the urgent need to take further meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,

Noting that sustainable reduction in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries requires stable and predictable availability of resources,

Recognizing that reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries can promote co-benefits and may complement the aims and objectives of other relevant international conventions and agreements,

Recognizing also that the needs of local and indigenous communities should be addressed when action is taken to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,

1. Invites Parties to further strengthen and support ongoing efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation on a voluntary basis;

2. Encourages all Parties, in a position to do so, to support capacity-building, provide technical assistance, facilitate the transfer of technology to improve, inter alia, data collection, estimation of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, monitoring and reporting, and address the institutional needs of developing countries to estimate and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation;

3. Further encourages Parties to explore a range of actions, identify options and undertake efforts, including demonstration activities, to address the drivers of deforestation relevant to their national circumstances, with a view to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and thus enhancing forest carbon stocks due to sustainable management of forests; Advance unedited version

4. Encourages, without prejudice to future decisions of the Conference of the Parties, the use of the indicative guidance provided in the annex as an aid in undertaking and evaluating the range of demonstration activities;

5. Invites Parties, in particular Parties included in Annex II to the Convention, to mobilize resources to support efforts in relation to the actions referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above;

6. Encourages the use of the most recent reporting guidelines1 as a basis for reporting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, noting also that Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention are encouraged to apply the Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry;2

7. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to undertake a programme of work on methodological issues related to a range of policy approaches and positive incentives that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries noting relevant documents;3 the work should include:

(a) Inviting Parties to submit, by 21 March 2008, their views on how to address outstanding methodological issues including, inter alia, assessments of changes in forest cover and associated carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions, incremental changes due to sustainable management of the forest, demonstration of reductions in emissions from deforestation, including reference emissions levels, estimation and demonstration of reduction in emissions from forest degradation, implications of national and subnational approaches including displacement of emissions, options for assessing the effectiveness of actions in relation to paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 5 above, and criteria for evaluating actions, to be compiled into a miscellaneous document for consideration at the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice at its twenty-eighth session;

(b) Requesting the secretariat, subject to availability of supplementary funding, to organize a workshop on methodological issues identified in paragraph 7 (a) above, before its twenty-ninth session, and to prepare a report on the workshop for consideration by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice at that session;

(c) Advancing the development of methodological approaches, taking into account the outcome of the workshop referred to in paragraph 7 (b) above at its twenty-ninth session;

8. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to report to the Conference of the Parties, at its fourteenth session, on the outcomes of the work referred to in paragraphs

7 (a)-(c) above, including any recommendations on possible methodological approaches;

9. Invites relevant organizations and stakeholders, without prejudice to any future decision of the Conference of the Parties on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, to support efforts in relation to paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 5 above and to share outcomes of these efforts with the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice by providing corresponding information to the secretariat;

10. Request the secretariat to support, subject to the availability of supplementary funding, the activities of all Parties, in particular developing countries, in relation to paragraphs 3, 5, 7 and 9 above, by developing a Web platform where information submitted by Parties, relevant organizations and stakeholders will be made available;

11. Notes the further consideration, under decision X/CP.13, of 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;

12. Notes further that when addressing policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, the efforts described in paragraph 3 above should be considered.



CITATION:
mongabay.com (December 16, 2007).

Bali delegates agree to support forests-for-climate (REDD) plan.

http://news.mongabay.com/2007/1215-redd.html