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REDD Text Limps Out Of Doha – Healthy, Homeless, And Broke

REDD Text Limps Out Of Doha – Healthy, Homeless, And Broke
Author: Steve Zwick
UPDATE: As of 22:00 local time, high-level talks are continuing but no changes are expected to the REDD text. We will provide a more comprehensive wrap Sunday night or Monday morning. Please check back then.
7 December 2012 | Doha | Qatar | High-level climate talks continue here and may run until Monday, but negotiations on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) appear to have wrapped up for the year. 
Some parts of the text are now complete, and these are embedded in the most recent outcome of the Advanced Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) – the negotiating track created at COP 13 in Bali, Indonesia and slated to end today. 
Other parts of the text remain unfinished, and these are now on the agenda for the next meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), which take place in Bonn, Germany in June. 
The critical issue of results-based finance will be picked up at workshops headed by two co-chairs – one from the developed world and one from the developing world, both appointed by the President of the COP.
That leaves the mechanism with $5.35 billion in public funds committed and $2.24 billion acknowledged and spent by both developed and developing countries, according to the REDD Database but that doesn't include the $500 million each pledged by Norway and the UK.

The Final Outcome

The "final" LCA text is available here, but several parties have already voiced objections to key provisions. Pargraphs 25 through 40, however, have not been challenged, and these are the paragraphs related to REDD. 
The text recognizes the need to talk about “ways to incentivize non-carbon benefits,” such as water filtration, biodiversity preservation, and the support of forest peoples, and it also calls on SBSTA and SBI to build a home for REDD by the end of 2013 – for, with the Kyoto Protocol gone as of Thursday and LCA wrapping up today, everything rolls over to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (AWG-ADP), which is to deliver a binding global agreement by 2015 to be implemented no later than 2020.

Building A Home

Coming into Doha, REDD talks were split between SBSTA, LCA, and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), and the Doha talks were supposed to create a roadmap for the ADP. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, however, Papua New-Guinea (PNG) pushed for the creation of a new “REDD Committee” that would house all REDD talks. PNG created a detailed, three-page proposal that was gradually whittled down to a few bullet points and then banished to SBSTA and pushed off to June. 

_Negotiators at the U.N. climate talks in Doha this past week did not reach consensus to move the REDD+ mechanism forward, said Tony La Viña, environmental policy expert, adding this was the first time there has been no progress on the climate-forestry mitigation scheme.

“The honeymoon period is over for REDD+, we are down to the nuts and bolts of the mechanism. The things that matter most on the ground: verification, how payments will be made, the inclusions of non-carbon benefits, the implementation of safeguards…continue to discussions,” said La Viña, who is also a lead negotiator for the Philippines, as he updated an audience of global leaders and forestry experts on the progress of the negotiations at Forest day 6, held yesterday in Doha.

“This is the first time in the whole process that the REDD+ group within SBSTA [the scientific advisory body to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC] has not reached a solution.”

REDD+ is a mechanism that sees money channelled to developing countries to incentivise them to adopt practices that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation — estimated to account for 11-17 percent of global emissions. REDD+ was first agreed on at the 2007 UNFCCC climate summit in Bali and has been discussed and developed at subsequent meetings.

Last year, the Norway’s Environment and Development Minister declared REDD+ to be the “biggest success in climate change talks”,  but with decisions stalling on linking verification with financing the scheme, its success may be short lived.

Leaving REDD+ countries in the lurch

Initial progress during the week was positive and linking MRV methods with methods to set reference emission levels was generally seen as positive.  The lack of consensus on linking verification of the emission reduction measurements with payments as the key to achieving a performance based mechanism, could be a major setback for forest-rich countries already moving ahead with REDD+.

We still have a second week and Parties can always bring [MRV] up at the COP level…if we can nail down the MRV issue…the international policy framework on REDD+ is complete.

Many were expecting Doha to build on some of the robust decisions on monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) mechanisms agreed during the last round of talks in Durban, South Africa. This included a decision to take a “stepwise approach” which enables countries with low monitoring capacity to incrementally develop the technology and data to carry out more complex MRV and setting of reference levels. Subsequent discussions May’s SBSTA meeting in Bonn also focused on how developed countries could support forest-rich countries overcome many of the technical and financial MRV challenges.

The MRV impasse at Doha – reported to be between Brazil (a potential beneficiary of REDD+) and Norway (the largest funder of tropical forest conservation) — revolves around language governing the standards by which deforestation-related emissions would be verified. Norway has been pushing for an independent, international verification process undertaken by experts, whereas Brazil and other developing nations say they are not ready to commit to strong verification requirements.

Read further here....


Update from COP18: REDD+ and the drivers of deforestation

First, the news on REDD+. Perhaps riding high on the recent release of figures showing that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon last year fell to the lowest rate since 1988, Brazil has objected to calls from other countries supporting international verification of emissions reductions for REDD+. Or in other words, Brazil is suggesting donor nations provide funding for REDD+ while self-certifying their performance in reducing deforestation.

Whatever the political motivation, this stance has sabotaged the finalisation of REDD+ negotiations under the Advanced Working Group for Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) during the last few critical days of SBSTA, leaving a rift one negotiator described as an ‘impossible impasse’, between Brazil and major donor countries. The arguments have certainly tarnished Brazil’s reputation as the world leader on tackling deforestation, and have left delegates and observers angry with their tactics.

Increasingly unafraid to exploit an opportunity, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) and Papua New Guinea declared support for Brazil’s position in an attempt to gather momentum behind their calls for the establishment of a ‘REDD+ Committee’ - a new body for REDD+ which would take responsibility for future discussions on the mechanism, as well as act as a coordinating body for future funding. Although details of the proposed remit of this committee remain unclear, there is widespread concern that further fragmentation of the REDD+ discussions at such a delicate stage could be divisive, not to mention an element of suspicion that this move represents the latest attempt of the CfRN to assert influence over the financial flows for REDD+.

Meanwhile, as the discussions on REDD+ stalled over the weekend, attention has shifted to other areas of the negotiations. The word in the corridors this week at COP18 is ‘drivers’ - not of Qatari taxis, who like to lean heavily on the ‘go’ pedal and don’t seem to know when to stop - but of tropical deforestation. One can’t help but wish that the discussions at COP18 surrounding the reduction of tropical deforestation shared their unstoppable momentum.

Read further here...

Forest Carbon Asia

Forestry protection talks break down in Doha

Developing and developed countries reached a stalemate over how to verify carbon emissions from forests in Saturday’s talks on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation at the annual U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar.

Represented by Brazil and Norway, respectively, poor and wealthy nations were unable to agree on how high to set the standard to verify emissions reductions at the 37th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the group that dispenses scientific advice to the delegates to the conference.

Developing countries argued for handling the verification process domestically, while the donor countries favored independent verification from an international group. The talks are among several in Doha to advance the creation of a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) framework, a system that pays landowners to keep trees standing in countries that are prone to deforestation.

In essence, it reflects the proverbial chicken-and-egg dilemma: A wealthy donor country like Norway is reluctant to fund projects under the REDD+ mechanism if the verified carbon emissions are not completed to high standards. And poor, forested countries like many in the Group of 77 — a U.N. coalition of less-developed countries — are unwilling to take steps to verify to a high standard if they don’t have any funding from donors or markets.

Please click here to read the original news item.


Are ‘Landscapes’ the new ‘Forests’?

We are witnessing a shift. Ever since 2007 when REDD+ first appeared on the table in Bali, forests have benefited from a profound image makeover. For five years now, forests have been the hero of the climate change discussions taking place everywhere from the gleaming convention halls of the UN Conference of Parties to local government offices fielding interest from the private sector and NGOs in establishing REDD+ projects. For the first time in a very long time forests have taken center stage. And yet, there are indications that the star of a stand-alone forest sector may be waning.

CIFOR’s much appreciated Forest Day, held at the last five COPs following Bali, has been a critical meeting point for many working in forestry issues. A celebration of forests: replete with incisive debates, a festival-like atmosphere and a who’s who of the forestry field. However, Forest Day 6 in Doha this year will be the last. Peter Holmgren, CIFOR’s new Director General, eloquently brings a close to an era in a blog arguing that the work needed to be done in drawing attention to forests has been a success. That at this juncture we must now move beyond our familiar sectoral domains and into the relatively uncharted territory of ‘landscapes’.

Sustainable Forest Management Requires a Multi-sectoral Approach

While perhaps without the same explicit goal of ‘coming out of the forest’, parallel moves towards fostering inter-sectoral approaches are growing in momentum. On the morning of Friday, November 30th, ODI organized a roundtable on strengthening inter-sectoral collaboration in REDD+. Participants unanimously echoed a common theme:  to protect forests, we need to think beyond them. Only when water, agriculture, mining, and other relevant sectors and industries are brought to the same table will we have a chance at stemming the drivers of deforestation. To remain within the silo of forestry will ultimately curtail the sustainable management of forests.

Please click here to read the original news item.


Getting down with the ‘landscapes’ lingo at Doha: COP18 in quotes

On the last Forest Day:


“Forest Day was designed to help put forests on the climate change agenda — and I think we can say that this mission has been completed.”

Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Director General.


“I will miss forest day because it has had a profound influence and impact on the negotiations throughout the years.”   

Tony La Vina, UNFCCC negotiator for the Philippines and REDD Facilitator.


“Forest day has made historic progress in helping to raise awareness of forests within the climate change agenda.”

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs


“The dream of the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests and the organisers of agriculture day is that together agriculture and forests can be much stronger.”  

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.


“As Luke SkyWalker from the Star Wars movies may have meant to say, may the forests be with you.”

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.


On the negotiations:


“The clean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement.”

Christiana Figureres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change


“I can understand a lot of countries have different ministries, a lot of countries have very separate processes, but please talk to each other before drafting national positions [on biodiversity and climate change].”
Kelly Hertenweg, negotiator for Belgium and expert at the Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.


“It’s easy to reach an agreement [on finance] as long as you don’t discuss commitments or money.”

Arild Angelsen, Professor of Economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and a Senior Associate at CIFOR.


“Donor nations sent the signal loud and clear that finance to save forests would require verification. Catastrophically for our planet, Brazil refused to listen.”   

Culley Thomas, Senior Sustainability Planner, Tropical Forest Group.


“It’s a brutal arithmetic – the changing structure of the world’s economy has been dramatic. That is something developing countries will have to face up to.”   

Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark Stern review of the economics of climate change.


“We are past the era of mitigation and adaptation. What comes next is the disappearance of islands. We are in an era of mass relocations.”

Ronny Jumeau, Ambassador for the Seychelles.


“You cannot negotiate with nature. While we are quarrelling, nature will just march on.”

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.


“What’s happening here in Doha, it’s like a trade negotiation. Everyone is behind their cards and they are not actually engaging that we have a charge – an ultimate, huge responsibility – for the future of our planet.”

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and climate justice campaigner


On forests, agriculture and landscapes:


“It is time for forestry to come out of the forest and contribute more broadly.”

Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Director General.


“The challenge is to do both forest conservation and increased food production [and not at] the expense of forests. No doubt if a government has to choose between them, then the forests will always lose, so the challenge is to promote forest management in a way that goes hand in hand with feeding the population.”

Andreas Tveteraas, Senior Adviser to Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative.


“Forests are facing unprecedented stresses and challenges that require us to go beyond a single value of the forests alone, we need to balance the economic, social and environmental values.”

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs


“Trees are really still our heroes in that they are working across our needs for water, our need for carbon and for the needs of local people. Moving towards landscapes will help us move towards sustainability.”

Mary Barton-Dock, Director, Climate Policy and Finance, World Bank


“If you want more than a glass, plastic, concrete and steel future for our children, then let’s make sure that forests and trees are well represented in our landscapes.”  

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.


“Let’s do it, let’s try to develop a way to manage this multifunctional landscape to provide eco system services, livelihoods and to sequester carbon to reduce emissions, even if we know that what we are doing is not perfect, because if we wait to have the perfect solution, we are all going to die.”

Robert Nasi, CIFOR scientist and Director of CGIAR’s Forestry, Trees and Agroforestry research program.


On deforestation:


“Everything you thought you knew about deforestation in the 20th century is no longer true.”

Doug Boucher, Director of Climate Research and Analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists.


“People are already seeing that actually if you tackle deforestation, you can have better governance and better development outcomes – and we won’t be talking about drivers of deforestation but drivers of reforestation.”

Tasso Azevedo, Forest and Climate Change Consultant/ Former Director General of the Brazilian Forest Service


“Saying that demand is a driver of deforestation’ is like saying ‘gravity was the cause of the plane crash’.”

Arild Angelsen, Professor of economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and a Senior Associate at CIFOR.


“We have already lost the dinosaurs of the animal kingdom. Trees are those dinosaurs of the plant kingdom that we still have, and still treasure.”

Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre.


“Forests are indeed important but you can’t take the pressure of fossil fuel emissions by saying we’ll just put it all in forests, scientifically it just doesn’t work.”

Will Steffen, Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute Australian National University.




“If we want to save REDD as a result and not a process, you have to focus more on the actions of right now …and less on understanding the whole thing.”

Tasso Azevedo, Forest and Climate Change Consultant/ Former Director General of the Brazilian Forest Service


“I’m worried from what I’ve heard. The science is strengthening, the value of REDD+ hasn’t gone away [but if] we have to wait three more years…my worry is too many people will exit the market.”

Jonathan Shopley, Managing Director of the Carbon Neutral Company.


“Without the long term guarantee of investment, why would countries build new institutions, invest in training personnel, reorganise their ministries and technical offices to respond to a programme that may be over in two or three years time?”

Lou Verchot, CIFOR scientist


“The honeymoon period for REDD+ is over.”

Tony La Vina, UNFCCC negotiator for the Philippines and REDD+ facilitator.

For more stories from the UN climate talks in Doha, click here.



REDD+: The Doha Results so far


Blog | by Dr. Radut