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Cancun agreement and financing forestry

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Issue date: 
February 24, 2011
Publisher Name: 
The Financial Express
Fazle Rabbi Sadeque Ahmed
Author e-Mail: 
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The impacts of climate change are already being felt in many developing countries particularly least developed countries and small island states, yet these countries have not been the primary cause of it. The necessary actions to halt climate change and the ways in which all nations whether it is developed or developing, least developed or emerging or polluter developing, small island states should be part of the overall solution are becoming clearer. What is further required is clarification of how these actions should be financed, who should shoulder the responsibility and who should receive the benefits.

Deep cuts of green house gas (GHG) emission from industrialised nations are vital, but they are not enough; these countries must also bear their historical responsibility (as they are polluting the atmosphere for the last few decades) for causing climate change by providing adequate, predictable and sustainable finance for developing countries. Climate finance will give urgent support needed by the developing world to take immediate steps to move on to a low carbon development pathway. It can also enable the most vulnerable countries including the least developed countries like Bangladesh and the small island developing states to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Forests offer a one-time opportunity to mitigate (reduce GHG emission) and adapt to climate change. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) approximately 25 to 40 per cent of the emission reduction is needed by 2020 to prevent global temperature rise above 20C. It cannot be achieved without addressing emission reduction from deforestation and degradation, conserving forest carbon stocks and enhancing forest carbon stocks through aforestation and reforestation. Forests are also providing ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation. They underpin food and energy security and cool the land surface by pumping moisture and transferring heat. In addition, forests deliver a natural carbon capture and storage service, removing approximately 1 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere annually -for free.

Forests also directly or indirectly support the livelihoods of 1.4 billion people (World Bank, 2004) and local communities depend on forests as a source of fuel, food, medicines and shelter. The loss of forests therefore, jeopardises the livelihoods of the poor and the ability of the world's poorest to adapt to climate change. Maintaining the resilience of this ecosystem is a major opportunity for forest owing nations to adapt to climate change. Poorer nations will not to do this with adequate and predictable financing at scale to move to an alternative low carbon development path. Equitable, transparent and effective distribution of funds for these purposes, taking into account the needs of local peoples will be crucial to its success.

In COP 16 an agreement called Cancun agreement was adopted for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in a future climate change regime and that will guide the various pilot initiatives taking place around the world. The term REDD first defined under the paragraph 1b (iii) of the Bali Action Plan (2007) refers to "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.

In 2009 there was no substantial outcome in the world climate change conference (COP15) in Copenhagen. However, a political declaration called Copenhagen Accord was adopted and out of 194 countries, 140 countries associated themselves with this accord including USA, Canada, EU, India, China, Japan, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Bangladesh. Our prime minister and environment minister played key role to formulate the accord. In that accord allocation of first start financing of US$30 billion was for adaptation, mitigation and REDD+ from 2010 to 2012. At least $4.0 billion from this fast start financing was allocated for REDD+ activities. Multilateral programme such as World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, working in 37 developing countries and its Forest Investment Programmes, has identified eight pilot developing countries for REDD project implementation. United Nations Collaborative Programme on REDD (UN-REDD) is working on the ground in twelve pilot countries and the Global Environment Facility that has over 40 REDD- related projects in developing countries round the world will be benefited from that fund. At least a dozen developed countries have directed bilateral funding to REDD+ related activities, with Norway being a leader and providing support to Brazil, Tanzania, Guyana, Mozambique and the Congo Basin, in addition to proving funding for the various multilateral initiatives. However, financing for REDD+ is typically been under funded and poorly coordinated. Outside the proposed first start financing for REDD+ altogether generated $4.12 billion.

A consensus is emerging within international climate change negotiations that REDD+ will pass though a series of phases that encourage countries to progress from initial capacity building activities toward achieving long-term emission reductions in measurable, reportable, and verifiable (MRV) ways. Phase in implementation are likely to correspond to various mechanisms and initiatives providing financial support to REDD countries, the phases are:

Phase 1: National REDD strategy development and capacity building: in many countries like Bangladesh support would begin with capacity building, institutional strengthening, and the building of monitoring capacitates.

Phase 2: Implementation of national REDD policies and measures:

2a) The implementation policies addressing the drivers of deforestation would create the enabling environment for REDD+. REDD+ countries could receive performance based support triggered by the achievement of agreed indicators.

2b) As soon as countries have the relevant data and capacities, they could also adopt a national reference level that allows for the accounting for GHG benefits. During the period in which a country lacks the capacity to account for fully measured tonnes of GHG reductions, climate benefits could be estimated based on the basis of proxy indicators for reduced deforestation.

Phase 3: Full scale implementation: This could rely on a results-based compensation mechanism for fully measured, reported, and verified emission reductions and removals from the forestry sector. The last phase could also receive funding through the marketing of carbon units on international carbon market.

Bangladesh is in her initial stage for REDD+ preparedness. Bangladesh should harness its activities and capacities for strategy development and will increase communication with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other international funding bodies to get fund both from bilateral and multilateral sources. Bangladesh already made National Advisory Committee and National Technical Committee for REDD+ with the involvement of government officials, experts, and academia. Forest Department (FD) is the lead organisation for the REDD+ related activities. FD is working for REDD+ strategy development and making national baseline for the forestry sector. Bangladesh applied for the membership of UN-REDD and got observer status. It is expected that more funds will be generated for future mitigation action especially in the forestry sector and Bangladesh should work actively and diligently to get substantial amount of funds from the bilateral and multilateral funding sources, as we are the most vulnerable to climate change and we deserve to get justice from the future international funding mechanism to address the adverse impact of climate change.

The writer, a PhD, is the Director (Climate Change) of the Department of Environment and member of Bangladesh delegation in COP15 and COP16. He can be reached at e-mail:frsa1962@yahoo.co.uk


Extpub | by Dr. Radut