June 10 - Stick to the REDD line

10 June 2010 | Article

After heartening progress on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Copenhagen, the issue is not getting the attention it deserves in this round of talks, says Ytha Kempkes, lobbyist with IUCN Netherlands.

REDD is very important to decrease the total amount of carbon emissions, as almost 20% of total worldwide carbon emissions is caused by deforestation and forest degradation - more than the transport sector.
But REDD is definitely one of the issues not getting much attention here in Bonn.

Does that mean the negotiation text on REDD is ready to be agreed upon? No, that would be too good to be true. Some of the outstanding issues are cross cutting like finance and the modalities for MRV (measuring, reporting and verifying), or are complex and difficult to agree upon like how to set the reference levels of deforestation.

A market-based mechanism to finance REDD+ is by now being endorsed by a majority of Parties stressing that it should be linked to the phased approach and therefore only come in once REDD+ is fully implemented and result-based. Different Parties even stressed the need to guarantee that it will be market-based to secure and stimulate investments.

I have heard quite some positive words about the REDD+ partnership (an initiative from France and Norway) even though some do also mention the fear of leaving countries out. At the same time it is clear that the current financial resources earmarked for REDD+ are not sufficient and are not always really “new and additional”…

Concerns about the implementation of the safeguards like respecting the rights of indigenous people and consistency with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity are still very alive. I can’t imagine that the final negotiation text will be able to take these concerns away as unfortunately even the best wording can’t guarantee what will happen ‘on the ground’.

Positive news of these two weeks is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will explore further guidance for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands. This is an important step in the conservation and restoration efforts of wetlands.

Estimates show that globally carbon emissions from drained peatsoils in wetlands amount to 6% of all carbon emissions. Many of these emissions could be reduced by rewetting. However because these emissions are currently ignored as they do not need to be accounted for, there are no incentives - at this stage - for countries to save or restore these carbon rich areas.

Resuming these past days… The progress already made on REDD has been put on hold to give the other negotiation issues the time to catch up. There is however a lot that still needs to be done before Cancun and a real sense of urgency among the delegates would therefore be most welcome! What is needed for that to happen?