Recent REDD Developments
September 26, 2008
The UNFCCC is debating the size and rules of mitigation commitments for when the Protocol expires in 2012. There are two negotiating tracks to build on the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The first is the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties, held under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). The second is the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention (AWG-LCA).
A central question these two talks is, “What level of cuts in GHG emissions will countries agree to meet”? Will the cuts be deeper than the current Kyoto Protocol levels? Will the talks lead to a retreat from the already-modest commitments? From a climate, political and economic point of view, this is the most important issue.
A second key issue is, “Which countries will take on what types of obligations”? Europe, Japan, and other “pro-Kyoto” countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and begun using domestic action and global carbon markets to meet their obligations. Other developed nations remain opposed to the Kyoto Protocol (United States), are ambivalent (Canada) and Australia is just reconnecting with the “pro-Kyoto” community. For developing countries, the only market-based reductions come through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Critically, the CDM operates at a project scale and developing countries can not access carbon finance with national programs and policies. This limits the scale, the efficacy and the mitigation potential of the CDM substantially.
Any policy development that combines deeper cuts in GHG emissions and more countries involved in mitigation would be a major breakthrough. This could potentially come at a time when scientists are increasingly alarmed by the slow international response to global warming.
Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries is the most promising issue for two key issues: deeper cuts and more countries involved. REDD explicitly brings in the17% of global GHGs outside the existing UNFCCC framework. REDD would dramatically expand the role of developing countries in quantified national emission reduction measures. REDD is the 1st initiative proposed by developing countries designed to work at a national level.
REDD is likely to be a pivotal part of the post-2012 UNFCCC framework. Since its introduction in 2005, REDD has been met with growing enthusiasm around the world. Most of the key areas of disagreement are not deal breakers. Some of the topics still being debated are: 1) whether emission reductions must be national or if they can be credited at the project level; 2) whether REDD credits will be totally fungible carbon credits or whether there will be separate accounts; and 3) technical issues, such as baselines measurement and monitoring, and leakage. The August 2008 talks in Ghana saw continued support for a REDD package as part of the next international agreement. Many observers and diplomats in Ghana noted that it is increasingly difficult to image how REDD would be excluded from the post-2012 deal, even though key details are still being hammered out.
Developments Outside the UNFCCC
In addition to REDD progress at the UN, many new funds, facilities and partnerships have emerged around the world in the past two years.
In 2007, Australia announced the $160 million Global Initiative on Forests and Climate. Also in 2007, a new Forest Carbon Partnership Facility was established at the World Bank to facilitate REDD and REDD-like conservation. This facility has a “targeted volume” of $300 million. In the past two years, other governments including the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Denmark have together announced tens of millions of dollars in new resources to stem tropical deforestation.
Recently, on September 18th 2008, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced $1 billion in new money to help Brazil fight deforestation. “The precondition is that we (Norway) can look at all of the documentation showing that deforestation is being reduced”. In other words, Norway will pay as long as Brazil can prove that it has actually slowed deforestation.