Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Late Saturday night it was clear that no decision would be forthcoming that day. The word was that delegates would continue consultations at midnight and into Sunday morning. At 2:00 am it became clear that the COP would reconvene at 8:00 am on Sunday morning. Plenary was packed at 8:30 that morning but it seemed as if consultations were continuing up and through the last minute. Finally at a few minutes past nine in the morning the Indonesian Minister of the Environment and also the President of the COP caused the meeting to reconvene. TFG had heard from inside sources that China and the G77 would be blocking the proposed text but it simply did not seem feasible, given all of the other positive rumors that were circulating
With the plenary session open, India took the floor and with its first intervention it became clear that no all was well; they proposed to alter language of a key paragraph of the “roadmap document.” This language was initially supported by the EU in the spirit of compromise and then in a political maneuver that was difficult to understand at the time, China intervened further with a statement that indicated that consultations were continuing, and as such the plenary session was forced to stop. Consultations continued until after the noon hour when Plenary was again reconvened by the President of COP. And again the Chinese delegation intervened, this time immediately and forcefully stating that consultations were again still continuing. Their was no other option for the Chair but to put the meeting on hold yet again.
Finally, some time near half twelve, both the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Bi-Kee Moon and the President of Indonesia addressed the delegates in an effort to attempt to resolve the apparent deadlock. After impassioned speeches and standing ovations for both speakers, China once again had the floor and aggressively in “point of clarification,” demanded an explanation from the Secretariat as to why the COP commenced when consultations had been under way. Evo de Boer was at a near loss for words and his exasperation was obvious, taking several times to compose himself before speaking. He was only briefly able to state that the secretariat was unaware of the consultations before leaving the stage with tears in his eyes. It was clear that the quiet diplomat was not only at wits end but also keenly aware that negotiations for the roadmap might be faltering.
Nonetheless, the debate began in earnest now with India insisting on its insertion of the text in regards to developing countries qualified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QuELRO’s); which obviously had the support of China and other members of the G77. Costa Rica, proposed a slight alteration in the language in the hopes that it could help the parties reacquire the delicate balance that was going to be needed for the roadmap to succeed. There seemed to be some momentum being gained as parties reluctantly agreed to the new proposals in one fashion or another including the Philippines, Switzerland on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group and even Saudi Arabia.
However, when Paula Debriansky, Undersecretary of State of the United States intervened, it quickly became clear that the something even greater was amiss, and when the she closed her statement with “The formulation put forward can not be accepted” the COP was stunned into silence which quickly changed to boos and hisses. The US was clear, it would not support the roadmap.
Although Japan may have been in support of the US, South Africa demanded an explanation of the US position stating that the US position was “most unwelcome” (this drew load cheers!) Speech after speech ensued attacking the US position from Brazil, Indonesia, Tuvalu and Chile. When PNG again had the floor, Kevin Conrad boldly stated that “We all came with high expectations; we left a seat for all countries, if you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way. We ask and seek your leadership, but if you are not willing to lead, please get out of the way.” This brought about a thunderous applause from all parts of the great hall. And then finally, when the speaker’s list was exhausted, the United States once again asked for the floor and conceded its position. The applause was even louder and delegates were scene to be hugging each other. A roadmap to Copenhagen in 2009 and for the future of the Convention was agreed upon at around 2:30 in the afternoon as consensus had been finally reached.
It was only a few minutes later that the agenda item 5, Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing (REDD) countries was subsequently approved. TFG delegates and other pro-forest groups were thrilled and high-fived each other! Now the real work was about to begin for the next two years, for a lot of details still needed to be worked out, but Bali had brought success not only for a future commitment period but also for tropical forests around the world. Our work at the COP was completed, and with great success.
And so ended our efforts in Bali at this historic meeting that not only laid forth a framework for future climate change negotiations, but also was a culmination of two years worth of work to bring the forestry sector back into the fold of the convention. With great happiness I can report that the future for tropical forests has never looked brighter then on this day.
For the last time then, this is Bali Walp signing off…
Friday, December 14, 2007
It’s the last official day here at the UNFCCC Bali climate change conference, and the fate of the worlds tropical forests hang in the balance. The negotiations are continuing and all hopes of a timely decision at COP 13 are right out. The COP was scheduled for 1pm, it was tabled until 3pm, then 4pm and just now again at the 6pm Plenary; now it is in complete limbo with all realistic expectations of decisions not happening until sometime on Saturday morning. Nonetheless, things actually seem to be going well for the REDD negotiations and TFG’s initial expectations look like they will be wildly surpassed.
Some of the best news today was that we received unofficial word that the President of Indonesia had some sort of a meeting with ten of his governors and instructed them that they should watch closely what is happening in the forestry sector and take a cue from what is happening, especially in the province of Ache. This is great news because it confirms that Indonesia is serious about tackling deforestation issues before the UNFCCC process is even under way and that Ache will be a lead demonstration area.
Further on the REDD issue, Kevin Conrad of Papua New Guinea provided some very positive insight to where the process stands this afternoon at the Global Canopy Programme (globalcanopy.org) press conference. It appears as if the REDD text is fairly well finalized despite the fact that the pace is glacial, “We are progressing about one sentence a day,” but REDD has been agreed on as “an element of the future!” What was still being discussed is how REDD will relates to the SBSTA decision that was blocked on Wed by the US. However, Conrad stated further that “they (US) have bent over backwards to set us free!” So although there is work to be done, “it looks like that we will get most of what we require.” That means, pilot projects, market mechanisms and perhaps even early crediting.
On a lighter note, the last of the TFG Frisbees were distributed to the highest level delegates that we could find. Our ultimate hand-off was to Harlan Watson, Chief US negotiator! Other recipients were Kevin Conrad (PNG), Greg Pickering (Australia), Kapil Sibal (India) and Peter Furmhoff (UCS). Look to our website in the coming days for more photos of these delegates with their discs emblazoned with the TFG logo!
So for the final decision of the COP and REDD, stay tuned, because it “ain’t over yet,” and I think it will be Saturday before the results are known!
Bali Walp, singing off…
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The day for REDD got of to a bumpy start as one of TFG’s trees failed and collapsed; perhaps another symbol of the onslaught of deforestation here in Indonesia. But inside the Bali International Convention Center (BICC) the masses seemed to descend upon the limited space, NGO and delegates were swarming everywhere, and by noon when the first REDD contact group was to meet, the doors to Plenary 2 were buzzing with NGO’s clamoring to get in and see where the negotiations were headed. Everyone’s hopes (and that’s all they were), were that not only would a new text be available but that the contact group would be able to finalize a text that could be sent to SBSTA.
Noon came and went, and one o’clock came and went. By two o’clock it was clear that the contact group was not going to start and that the informals were continuing. TFG managed by stealthy means to acquire the draft text that was issued in the morning. It was a significant alteration of any other draft text we had seen, but surprisingly of a positive nature. The document had new language about market mechanisms, and it had an annex that listed nearly a dozen guidance points related to pilot projects. These aspects were a real breakthrough! Not only were there now references to national baselines, but also to something that was much closer to early action and of course the potential market mechanisms could all provide some of the much needed signal that the markets required in relation to forestry and offset credits.
A second Contact Group was scheduled for the evening and to everyone’s surprise it was convened. In the early moments of the meetings it seemed as if there had been an enormous amount of convergence and that a consensus was imminent. Nonetheless India’s intervention of requesting even more language about forest conservation appeared to be upsetting the delicate balance that had been achieved. Although Brazil had already conceded to language about market mechanisms, it was willing to go along with the changes, as was China and Japan despite the fact that “the issue of forest management (was being) fused into REDD.” And then in an apparent power move, Papua New Guinea introduced new early action text and new brackets that threw everyone for a final loop… Panama intervened with a novel solution and the Chair-persons realizing that an impasse had been reached put the meeting on hold so that the delegates could have a “five minute” consultation period. Five minutes turned into ten and then fifteen. When the meeting was called back to order it appeared that the crisis had been solved. But New Zealand continued to have problems and PNG was unwilling to conceded its issues, and then it happened. The US pulled its classic maneuver of throwing the whole effort into chaos by bracketing two entire paragraphs that were key to the support of India on forest management issues. Because the time for the contact group had ended, the Chair had no choice but to close the meeting and refer the bracketed text to SBSTA.
Late that night at SBSTA, with plenary largely empty and only tired delegates around, the US hijacked the process again and forced the bracketed text to the COP for a final decision. It was now out of the hands of the REDD negotiators and SBSTA and up to the high level negotiators for a final decision. The matter as it stands is up in the air and will not be openly discussed until Friday at the final COP meetings. We can only hope that REDD is not lost until next year and still becomes a part of the Bali Roadmap.
Will all contact with REDD be lost forever? Will politics and good sense prevail? Stay tuned to see how it all plays out!
Bali Walp, signing off…
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Today the official REDD negotiations slogged on as new draft text was available that seemed to make it look like the parties were a bit closer to consensus. It appears as if delegates are at lest agreed in principals that submissions for methodologies issues need to be submitted by 21 March 2008. This may seem like a long way off, but if one considers that forestry has been on hold (to a great extent because of lack of methodologies) for most of the last 10 years since COP 3 in Kyoto, it actually is potentially exciting. Additionally it seems that the parties have agreed that a workshop should be held by the next COP in an effort to iron some of these technical issues out. Progress often is slow within the UN process but it seems that regarding REDD, some sort of a roadmap may indeed be emerging.
Unofficially, REDD went into overdrive as CIFOR declared it Forest Day and held an all day session of side events, speakers, and other presentations at the Ayodo Hotel where hundreds of both NGO and country delegates showed up to hear from the scientists, policy makers, and interested parties about various perspectives on the REDD matter. Private companies seem ever more interested in REDD credits, even if they are only voluntary credits. It is clear that there is market for high quality forestry credit outside of the compliance markets yet there is a general lack of credits available for purchase that satisfy the discerning customers. Nonetheless, there is hope on the horizon as two governors of Indonesia, of Papua and Ache, at the Forest Day event, along with one governor of Brazil (Amazonia) signed a declaration that offers great hope for not only for REDD projects, but also schemes that respect indigenous persons rights.
Despite all of the work that is being done, the annual NGO party ended the evening in fine form at the Hotel Inna Putri, where many hundreds of NGO delegates gathered for an informal night of socializing and even a bit of dancing. Even the buzz at the party seemed to be enhanced by the apparent possibility of REDD document that will at least lay forth some sort of a roadmap from Bali for future progress that could include not only timetables but also the call for pilot projects. By early next we will have a much clearer picture. Stay tuned!
Bali Walp singing off!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
REDD needs to support:
emissions reductions from D&D
policies and measures to improve governance, equity, and social development
Doing this helps reduce risk, gives REDD more credibility, involves more stakeholders, and helps make REDD projects more stable investments.
Here's to hoping that COP13 can produce a roadmap for REDD and prompt immediate, effective action!
Friday, December 7, 2007
According to the US State Departments own website her position is seventh ranking in the Department of State, maybe sixth in rank if you consider that the position of Secretary of International Security is currently vacant. It comes as no surprise then that she is one of the original neo-cons, so much in fact that she is an original signatory on the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and if you don’t remember, these are the folks who started the conflict in Iraq. She has been a vocal proponent of the Bush’s administration to spread “democracy and human rights,” stating that “promoting human rights,… is the bedrock of our policy and our foremost concern.” This is the person who is going to help promote rapid action to tackle climate change on behalf of the United States, now the only industrial country in the west who has not signed the Kyoto Protocol. I’m not sure about you but this does not actually inspire a lot of confidence in the US climate change policy.
It seems that our administration remains out of sync with not only the rest of the world, but also with our own government on the Hill. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, made a very interesting remark at a closed meeting yesterday when he stated that he had just received a letter from ten chairs of various senate committees stating that the mood of the Senate is very different from views of the current administration. Clearly this disconnect is not just frustrating for the world, the citizens of the US but also our own government.
How can we achieve the 25%-40% reduction of emission and keep temperatures from rising less then 2 degrees as envisioned by the Bali conference when the largest western democracy which has only this year come on board to the reality of climate change still has its head in the sand? Please Mr. President, this is your one last chance to help change history in an incredibly positive way and erase in one fell swoop all the errors of the past seven years. “The eyes of the world are upon us” lets not let the planet down.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
In the REDD Contact group PNG was happy with the progress of the REDD agenda item, and continued to be vocal about calling for ambitious progress. A draft text regarding REDD has been in circulation since SBSTA in May of 2007 and is what is now under consideration by the delegates. The UK again reiterated that “the eyes of the world are upon us.” There were many calls for pilot projects and flexible approaches especially so that LDC’s could take advantage of forestry project potential. The US in typical fashion spent much of its time on the floor highlighting and pointing out the “disagreement” between the parties, yet also said they were encouraged by the text and stated that they found it “workable.” Ghana pointed out that REDD is “not achievable if it is not linked to poverty reduction” in light of the sustainable development aspects of both the Convention and the Protocol.
Over lunch time, TFG brought together a fabulous group of Balinese dancers who staged an interpretive dance about the link between man, nature and the ongoing destruction of the rainforests. The crowd was wowed and the press could not get enough as numerous REDD experts and country delegates made impromptu statement in favor of REDD!
Efforts in the afternoon continued in the Ad Hoc Working Group on a timetable to guide the completion of work in 2008 in anticipation of an agreement to further commitments for Annex I parties by 2009. The delegates were keenly aware of the immensity of work ahead of them and discussed the potential need for four sessions in 2008 and possibly the same in 2009. The mood was upbeat and included the possibility of new rules related to emissions trading and land use, land change and forestry (LULUCF), i.e. something that might go beyond the Marrakech Accords! In any case the work in Vienna and the idea of having a second commitment period by the end of 2009 perhaps will turn into a reality. We might see a singular unified Bali Roadmap by the end of the COP, and not a number of roadmaps. As Switzerland pointed out, because it is always tricky when different people are trying to get to the same place using different maps!
After three days of the COP, things seem to be on track, yet the real work and meaningful progress will almost certainly happen next week when the high level negotiations take place.
Bali Walp signing off...
As a PhD student studying land use change in Bornean
The morning started with the dancers arriving an hour early, already fully made-up and in costume, outside of the conference center. Musicians were also part of the group, along with their rather large instruments. Photographers began taking photos of our dancing friends the minute they stepped off the bus; costumes and bold makeup and sheer group size made for an intriguing spectacle.
Our first order of business was to get the dancers through security so they could pose for photo ops by the trees. Security is very tight here, and everyone must have a badge to enter the conference complex. To my dismay, about half of the dancers were without badges! After a couple hours of (literally) running around and pleading with security officers, we were able to get the dancers into the conference center minutes before the performance began.
The dance troupe performed at the lunch break in the main conference center, and the viewing area was packed not only with media but also by representatives on their lunch breaks after the first REDD Contact Group. Everyone watched in awe as the dance began with a man painted in green and scantily clad embodied the earth, green and wild and pristine. More dancers soon joined him on the stage, representing binatang (animals), tumbu-tumbuhan (plants), manusia (humans) and dewi (gods). But as in reality, the humans in the choreography became greedy and logged the forest. Biodiversity plummeted, and fires burned through the degraded forests. The dance ended in a grand fashion, with a broken forest lying beneath a benevolent-looking, white-winged figure (the UN?) who apparently could not stop tropical forest destruction.
I walked away from the show with an amazed smile on my face. But I didn’t have much time to reflect on the dance because the show was followed by a press conference. Representatives from all three major tropical rainforest regions (
I hope our efforts – especially those of the dancers, who are citizens in a country with one of the largest expanses of remaining tropical forest in the world - inspire the delegates to reach an agreement on REDD before the conclusion of this conference!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
We heard from a total of 25 countries, the majority of which are developing countries. All delegates voiced support of REDD in some form or another, but as usual the devil is in the details. The keywords of the session were urgency, flexibility, and positive incentives.
Perhaps the one thing everyone agreed upon (or no one disagrees with) is the theme of URGENCY: the rapidity of climate change, and the need to reduce carbon emissions now. According to the delegate from Korea, we “must develop policy approaches…and incentives as soon as possible.” Such approaches might include pilot projects such as the World Bank Forestry Carbon Project Facility, which can help developing countries develop capacity and test REDD pilot projects, as well as inform future climate agreements. The United States gave predictably bland/neutral comments and instead of prioritizing active solutions stated that it is a “priority to further improve the understanding of methodological issues” related to REDD solutions. This is code for inaction and continued intransigence.
Almost all delegates urged FLEXIBLE solutions to problems. This includes flexibility in time, such as limited-time horizon solutions that may change in future stages. Flexiblity across space is also important. For example, Papua New Guinea advocated for national carbon accounting for market activities, as well as sub-national accounting. Indonesia pointed out that any REDD agreement must be developed “according to national standards and policies.” This all sounds great but … brings us back to brackets! The most flexible solution may be the least powerful.
Most countries support positive INCENTIVES to reduce deforestation. Of course incentives can take a variety of forms, but perhaps the most often mentioned is a REDD finance mechanism (allowing carbon generated by avoided forest degradation and deforestation to be traded on the global carbon market). Nevertheless, a few countries were notably worried about or opposed to market mechanisms. Brazil (rightly) noted that many Annex I countries have seen rising carbon emissions in the last 15 years, and argued that reducing emissions from “fossil fuel combustion must be addressed before forests are considered.” The delegate from Brazil went on to say that “bringing in market mechanisms now is premature. We are trying to find a roadmap until 2012 and beyond.” This position by Brazil continues its practice of blocking a truly meaningful financial system to emerge that will reward countries that reduce deforestation. Australia, on the other hand, strongly advocated a market mechanism and also (as a developed country) highlighted the need for Annex I countries to provide support for developing countries. Go Aussies!
The meeting wrapped up with comments from a representative of the Climate Action Network International. She sent us on our way with a list of four things to keep in mind for the coming weeks of negotiation: ambition, content, process, and a timetable. We'll let you know how it goes!
COP 13 3 DECEMBER 2007
“VITAL TO TAKE ACTION NOW” PRESIDENT OF COP13
Environmental Minister of
We “need to find the political will” and “the world is watching.” These were some of the opening remarks at COP 13 by the newly elected president of the COP, Rachmat Witoelar, environmental minister of
Despite the ugly picture that stands before us, it seems that there is more then a ray of hope here at the UN Climate Change conference for the trees of tropical countries. “Prevention of (losing) the lost paradise” calls for “a break through at
With the European Union “looking for a REDD Decision” and
The next two weeks could be critical for our planet and tropical forests alike. Are the delegates willing to take the vital action needed? We will know in only a fortnight’s time!
Getting security clearance for three, twenty foot solar-powered art installations seemed impossible at several points this morning. . . language barriers, UN Security vs Indonesian Polisi cross-continental beef; overworked volunteers running on little food, sleep and patience http://tropicalforestgroup.org/html_pages/videos.html. How did happen? A (seemingly) universally popular idea: let’s stop destroying our planet’s most valuable resource at the fiery rate of 20 million acres a year.
While it seems like such a no brainer to people around the world, it’s something UNFCC Delegates can’t agree on. Look! It’s go time. Some of the world’s best minds (and a few others) set aside two weeks in beautiful
Sunday, December 2, 2007
A Historic Opportunity to Save Tropical Forests
Welcome Cop13 delegates! The Tropical Forest Group welcomes you to Nusa Dua – a resort founded on the Balinese principle of Tri Hata Karana, the cosmological harmony between Humans, Nature and God. With all that positive karma, we’re confident you’ll leave the “Island of the Gods” in two weeks able to tell your families you did something historic: help save millions of acres of tropical forests and the plants, animals and people they support. [Unless of course, you don’t].Tropical deforestation has been burning at the fiery pace of 30 million acres per year. [Over the course of twelve days of negotiations, the world will forever lose almost a million acres]. In the time that plenary statements are read, contact groups formed and informals informulated behind closed doors, hundreds of thousands of acres of forests, plants, animals, and livelihoods will be destroyed. The positive carbon karma stored in tropical forests will be oxidized into negative carbon dioxide karma. Not the carbonic karmic baggage-you want to take home.The Tropical Forest Group is here to put reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) into the spotlight, with our trio of 20 foot inflatable silk trees. These trees will greet you as you enter the conference and their appearance will change daily to reflect the negotiations that determine their fate. Today, you’ll notice the trees encapsulated by sets of large brackets. These brackets represent the 21 sets of brackets that currently surround bits of text in the FCCC/SBSTA/2007L.10 document [otherwise known as the “Draft Text for a Decision on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries”]. The Tropical Forest Group urges delegates to remove the brackets and pass a powerful decision to save forests. A good COP13 REDD decision will do three things: 1) It will clarify the REDD process with specific dates for future actions; 2) It will encourage “early action”, including fungible carbon credits for the post-2012 period. [A COP13 decision that does not include early action language = five years of continued rampant deforestation] and [Five years = 150 million acres of deforestation = 110 billion tons of CO2 emissions, assuming 200 tC/ha]3) It will provide a clear mandate to have SBSTA or IPCC develop reference emission scenarios, not just decide on methodological issues for developing reference emission scenarios. Please delegates, tear down the brackets so we can stop tearing down our forests!