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December 14, 2009
December 9, 2009
December 8, 2009


For Immediate Release: December 15, 2009 04:01 am GMT +1

Earth Runs with REDD and Hangs in Balance

As climate change negotiations in Copenhagen drew to a screeching stop, nations of the world made unprecedented progress to tackle deforestation. The latest UN text on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) made enormous strides since earlier versions of the agreement last week. “We needed two critical pieces of text to catapult into a world where developing nations could see real value for saving tropical forests,” said John O. Niles, director of the Tropical Forest Group. “Forests and forest
peoples worldwide need “early action” language to fast track financing to save forests immediately. And the agreement needs clarification that national forest reference emissions levels will be discussed and decided
with concrete timelines. Both of these critical dimensions of a new global forest paradigm are now very much in play.”

The new REDD text in the UN process is still being negotiated, and brackets remain around these two key issues. The text from last week  did not have language to force decisions on reference forest emissions levels. These reference levels would set the level of deforestation developing nations must get below for new conservation funding. The text was discussed untilnearly 3:00 in the morning.

Cara Peace, Tropical Forest Group’s Assistant Director for Policy, said “Saving tropical forests has positively catalyzed the climate change negotiations – it is the only beacon in an otherwise dark night.” Although the larger negotiations for a new climate change accord have stalled, REDD is the most advanced sector to meaningfully incentivize national reductions in emissions. The current UN text on tropical forests
would also be a historic agreement with strong safeguards for indigenous peoples and local forest communities. At almost 2:00 am local time, the Holy See helped facilitate language on indigenous peoples rights under a REDD deal.

Another diplomat outside the talks said there are talks aimed at a new fund of many billions of dollars to support tropical forest conservation over the next five years.

Said Mr. Niles, “The forest diplomats are doing their job. Now they need a new Copenhagen accord to synchronize with and that is what the more than 100 confirmed heads of state are coming here to do.”

John-O Niles, Director +45 2791 6281

Cara Peace +45 6031 9814

Jeff Jackson+45 2693 0641


December 9, 2009

~ Tropical Forest Group (TFG) Position on COP15 REDD Text ~

Two Key REDD Provisions: Early Action & Clarifying Reference Emission Levels

TFG recognizes that many parts of the current REDD text are important, however, this position paper only focuses on the two issues TFG believes most critical to REDD.
The Kyoto Protocol’s power to mobilize financial resources through the CDM was driven by two essential concepts. First, there were negotiated targets for wealthy countries which formed the demand for CDM carbon credits. These are contained in the Kyoto Protocol’s Annex B. Second, the final sentence of the CDM (Article 12) stated:
Certified emission reductions obtained during the period from the year 2000 up to the beginning of the first commitment period can be used to assist in achieving compliance in the first commitment period.
This combination of demand (Annex B) and early action crediting (Article 12) drove the carbon market from 1997 to 2008. For REDD, two related concepts would mobilize substantial new finances to conserve tropical forests and fight climate change:

  1. Language which allows for funding of REDD early actions, and
  2. Clear mandates and timeframes for COP (with guidance from SBSTA) to decide on reference emissions levels from deforestation in developing countries.

Early Actions
The current draft text contained in FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/14 III c para 11 (page 94) allows for funds and markets (with Option 2) to fund “results-based (REDD) actions, “including early actions”. These critical three words “including early actions” should be retained in final decision. They would be strengthened by the change to “including early actions crediting”.
Reference Emission Levels
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol’s Annex B (targets for developed countries), REDD is not a target or limit on developing countries for emissions from deforestation. Registered national reference emission levels from deforestation in developing countries would, however, create a demand for REDD credits similar to the demand driven by the Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol. Voluntary emissions reductions that developing countries achieve by reducing deforestation will only be valuable if the country is below a reference emission level. For REDD to be globally additional, individual countries can not simply submit their proposed reference emission levels. These national reference levels must be reviewed by a qualified UN body. Collectively, the national reference emission levels of individual countries should be equal to or below commonly accepted current levels of emissions from deforestation in developing countries.
Parties do not yet have text in any COP15 text that creates a clear timeline for REDD national reference emission levels to have methodological guidance , nor deadlines for submissions of reference emission levels from Parties to the UNFCCC, nor a firm deadline for the UN system to review and register the national reference emission levels. This is a major shortcoming of current REDD negotiations. Without clear deadlines for robust aggregation of credible baselines, demand for REDD credits will not materialize.
TFG proposes the following three (3) amendments to the LCA text:
1) AWGLCA/2009/14 Paragraph 12 (page 94)
Change: STRIKE the word “the” and ADD the number “16” after COP to read:
“When establishing national reference emission levels and or national reference levels, Parties shall take into account the guidance provided in decision X/CP.15 (SBSTA/2009/3 Annex 1) and any relevant decision to be adopted by the COP 16.”
Rational: COP 15 should mandate that COP16 decide on guidance for establishing national reference emission levels and or national reference levels. Without that change to the text, the issue of establishing national emission levels and national reference levels could continue to go undecided for years. We have already had four years (since COP11) to discuss the importance and need for reference emission levels and the methodological and technical principles to use. The Expert Meetings on Methodological Issues Relating to Reference Emission Levels and Reference Levels (SBSTA/2009/2) report states “The experts agreed that cost-effective and robust methodologies and tools for estimating and monitoring emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and changes in forest cover and forest carbon stocks are available.” (para 66).
2) AWGLCA/2009/14, Paragraph 14 (page 95)
Change: STRIKE the word “the” and ADD the numbers “32 and 33” before SBSTA to read:
Parties [shall] [should] measure and report greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals and changes in forest carbon stocks in relation to the national reference emission levels or reference levels established for actions referred to in paragraph 2 above, in accordance with any reporting guidelines that will be developed by the SBSTA 32 and 33 [, and record the information under the NAMA registry].
Rational: For COP16 to make a final decision on methodologies for reference levels or reference emission levels, SBSTA would need to complete its technical work during SBSTA 32 or 33.
3) AWGLCA/2009/14 Paragraph 15 (page 95)
Change: STRIKE the word “the” and ADD the number “16” after COP to read:
Verification of reported greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals and changes in forest carbon stocks in relation to the national reference emission levels or reference levels established for actions referred to in paragraph 2 above shall be carried out in accordance with guidelines to be agreed decided by the COP16.
Rational: See rational #1 above.
4) AWGLCA/2009/14, Paragraph 22 (page 95)
CHANGE: ADD the words “…and reference levels and reference emission levels” to read:
Referring to the functions identified in paragraph 18 (e) to (f) above , the COP [shall] [should] establish [facilitate the establishment of] the following institutions:
(b) [An expert review team] [a measurement, reporting and verification technical panel] for the verification of actions AND REFERNCE LEVELS AND REFERENCE EMISSION LEVELS [, in the case of subnational scale activities by an independent body];
(c) …
5) AWGLCA/2009/14, Paragraph 9 e (page 136)
Change: DELETE the words “…”methodologies for” and ADD the words “ and reference emission levels” to read:
The Technical Panel on REDD+ (TP REDD+) shall, inter alia, determine reference levels and reference emission levels, support enhancement of REDD plus project activities within countries and other general methodological issues.
Rational: An Executive Body on Finance and Technology for Mitigation should determine the reference levels and reference emission levels for REDD. Technical guidance for how to determine these levels should be provided by SBSTA and/or COP.  Otherwise, without this change, SBSTA, COP and the TP REDD would all be determining methodologies and no body would actually determine the reference levels or reference emission levels.


Contact:  John O. Niles, TFG Director at COP15 + 45 27 91 6281
Cara Peace, TFG Assistant Director for Policy +45 60 31 9814

Although there is lots of language to provide methodological guidance to Parties, none have a deadline.

This is an error in the current text, they are actually referring to paragraph 20 and MRV (e to f).

December 8, 2009


UN Must Pass REDD Test

Climate change negotiations in Copenhagen were throttled with thousands of UN observers stuck in long, cold dark lines only to be turned away, when the facilities could not accommodate the registered delegates. COP15 is the most important environmental moment in a generation, with more than 100 heads of state planning to attend. Heightening the drama, the Rainforest Coalition’s Kevin Conrad called for consideration of a never-before exercised  option within the UN process to by-pass the consensus and adopt a system where only 75% of nations at the talks would need to agree. This would fundamentally change the nature of climate change negotiations on many far-reaching levels.

Known as the mouse that roared, the government of Papua New Guinea previously publicly shamed the United States into changing its position. In Bali (COP13), Papua New Guinea’s lead negotiator drew diplomatically-rare applause by publicly asking the United States to not block global progress on a climate change deal. Papua New Guinea has also led efforts to seek massive new funding for tropical forests tied to measured national reductions in deforestation. The so-called REDD proposal, for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries, is the most advanced topic at the meetings. There have been dozens of supportive UN decisions for the concept of new incentives to stop deforestation, many official UN technical reports on the subject and widespread recognition REDD is the biggest opportunity for developing countries to reduce emissions from an entire sector at the national level.

Making the situation even more dynamic is that President’ Obama, as then-candidate Obama, has expressed strong support for REDD. One of the four key pillars to Candidate Obama’s promise to re-engage the international community on climate change was his support of preventing deforestation. The US delegation has been largely supportive of REDD even though it has drawn fire from many countries opposed to a move away from the Kyoto Protocol’s strict timetables and targets for developed countries.

“By offering incentives to maintain forests and manage them sustainably, the United States can play a leadership role in dealing with climate change”.
—-  Candidate Obama’s 2008 Campaign Pledge

After two days of talks, negotiations continue in Copenhagen with little certainty that a deal can actually be struck, either on climate change at large or on the far-advanced topic of REDD. When President Obama visits talks next week, his delegation will have to decide, especially if Papua New Guinea continues its quest to forego the rule of consensus, whether it is really prepared to be a leader in dealing with climate change and tropical deforestation.

John O. Niles, Director
Tropical Forest Group
In Copenhagen + 45 27 91 6281 and +45 60 31 9814