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.