Friday, August 16, 2013

TCA course underway

On Monday the first of its kind advanced Terrestrial Carbon Accounting course got underway on the campus of UCSD.The certificate course is the result of a Collaboration between TFG,SSI,UCSD extension and WWF.Twenty three students from around the world are in attendance and were welcomed last night with a house party hosted by the course director John O. Niles and his wife Elsa.The party included a local GREEN food truck out front and an Americana style band in the backyard.A great time was had by all with a very low level of uncertainty.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

COP 18 Interview

Follow the link to watch an interview from Doha with John Niles, Director of Climate and Forests at WWF. Mr Niles discusses the progress of the REDD+ mechanism as well as the upcoming accredited course in terrestrial carbon accounting to be offered through the University of California, San Diego in collaboration with WWF and TFG. This course will address the necessary and complex work of measurement and verification of forest carbon stocks and flows.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Commit and Verify

Sunday, December 2, 2012 – 6:33pm (GMT +3)
Doha, Qatar

The major issues that prevented an agreement at the Doha REDD+ SBSTA meetings were finance and verification. Norway and other donor nations want robust verification. Brazil, Papua New Guinea, and other G77 nations want commitments of funding from these donor nations.

During the final REDD+ SBSTA session on December 1st, parties representing the G77, an intergovernmental organization of developing nations, made concessions regarding finance-related text. This effort resulted in short-lived exuberance that an agreement was close. The U.S. stated that it could work with the proposed changes, but shortly after, Norway stated that unless acceptable verification language was in the final text, the nation could not be part of an agreement. After a discussion between Norway and Brazil, the countries reported that their positions were too far apart and it became clear no agreement would be reached during the meeting. The session ended with the decision deferred to next week’s COP.

Both sides have legitimate positions. Donor nations want robust verification to ensure that the funds they provide result in real protection. The G77 nations do not see why they should commit to strong external verification requirements when the donor nations themselves are major greenhouse gas emitters and are not yet subject to similarly stringent verification. On November 29th, major REDD+ donor countries including the U.K., U.S., Germany, Norway, and Australia met in London and agreed to support the implementation of REDD+, but they only defined a small amount of funding. If donor nations want G77 nations to commit to verification, then they will likely need to make the first move and commit to funding REDD+ initiatives at scale. This could solve the current impasse.

After the session closed, Jeff Metcalfe, Executive Director of the Tropical Forest Group (TFG) stated that, “Getting agreement on REDD+ is critical for climate and forest protection efforts and now the ball is in the donor nations' court.” Culley Thomas, also of TFG, stated that “The G77 representatives provided concessions in order to reach an agreement. The donor nations now need to step up and make explicit funding commitments or, at minimum, provide firm dates when such funding will be made available.”

Next week during the COP, we will see if the both the donor and G77 nations can make REDD+ become a reality. If so, it would be a major victory for tropical forests, COP 18, and the larger climate protection effort. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Agreement...Almost... at REDD+ SBSTA

Going into the final REDD+ SBSTA meeting today, Brazil and U.S. appeared to be too far apart as they could not agree on finance and monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) issues.  Because of this rift in perspectives, it looked like the draft decision would have to be sent to COP bracketed, where it could be punted to the next SBSTA, or solved politically next week with ministers.
THEN…Papua New Guinea said they would like to caucus in the back of the room with other developing nation representatives. After the caucus and some procedural moves, Brazil said on behalf of Papua New Guinea that it could move the finance-related text that it was concerned with to the preamble [a major concession, and the right thing to do since finance is an LCA thing]. The U.S. said it could work with the G77 nations’ proposal and was thankful [At this time it looked like a major VICTORY for REDD+].
AND THEN… Norway said it needed verification to stay in the final text and if that was going to be questioned it would waste everyone’s time.  Brazil then huddled with Norway [they have a $1B REDD+ deal, the largest in world], and after some discussion, the countries reported that their red lines were too far apart.  
THUS…The session ended with the decision punted to the COP president for battle next week.

Friday, November 30, 2012

BREAKING NEWS - Last minute progress gets blocked

(Doha, Qatar - 5:10am - GMT +3) UNFCCC climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar broke down early this morning as Brazil blocked progress in last minute discussions to provide billions of dollars in finance to save rainforests. This failure in the talks could potentially jeopardize the trajectory of the UNFCCC, an already wounded United Nations effort to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Brazil objected to the requests of many nations by refusing to allow verified emission reductions for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD+). Earlier, other stubborn nations stalled talks for hours based on a different interpretation of the word “the”.

Culley Thomas of the Tropical Forest Group, a leading US research and conservation organization stated “Donor nations sent the signal loud and clear that finance to save forests would require verification. Catastrophically for our planet, Brazil refused to listen.” These key environmental talks broke down despite a promising agreement yesterday between major REDD+ donor countries: the U.K., U.S., Germany, Norway, and Australia. These five wealthy countries have invested billions of dollars in efforts to save rainforests despite a global recession, key elections and record unemployment. In London yesterday, during talks headed by HRH Prince Charles, these large donors privately resolved to maintain momentum for the UN efforts on REDD+. The donors made it clear that if rainforest countries want help, they will need to go through some form of international verification process.

Some parties suggested that Brazil’s obstinance during SBSTA resulted from its objections to REDD+ text in a separate track, the AWG-LCA (Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action). Since SBSTA is set to close today, December 1st, negotiations on key provisions including monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and reference levels will be punted to the intercessional SBSTA meeting in Bonn in midyear 2013.

What will result of yesterday’s major donors’ joint statement remains unknown. However, REDD financing could potentially collapse as countries lose faith in the UNFCCC’s ability to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

SBSTA on REDD+ negotiations break down

It's nearly 5 am in Doha, Qatar, and we've just received word from TFGers Jeff Metcalfe, Jeff Jackson, Culley Thomas, and Megan Byrn who are on the ground at the Qatar National Convention Center that critical SBSTA (subsidiary body for scientific and technical advice) negotiations have just broken down. Technical text advancing the verification component of MRV (monitoring, reporting, and verification) faced fatal blockage from Brazil, related (or so we hear) to its objections to REDD+ text in a separate track, the LCA.

This occurred despite a promising agreement yesterday between the major REDD+ donor countries, the U.K., U.S., Germany, Norway, and Australia, that resolved to move REDD+ rapidly towards large scale development for verified emissions reductions (VERs) and a performance-based system. Who knows if this support and promised finance for REDD+ will evaporate. A UNFCCC-based plan to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels probably can't be achieved without addressing tropical deforestation, which accounts for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions according to the IPCC.

Here's to hoping that the parties can magically (but rather unlikely) reverse Brazil's obstinancy. Or deal with this in the intercessional SBSTA meeting in Bonn roughly 6 months from now. This may very well be the UNFCCC's last chance to take ownership of REDD+.

SBSTA is still at it...

We heard SBSTA is working on the V in MRV.  It's 3:30am Qatar time...we tried to send them pizzas, turns out late night delivery in Doha is an issue.