Climate 411

Momentum Builds for Agriculture at COP 24

Plenary at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. Flickr/ UNclimatechange

Agriculture negotiators arrived in Katowice, Poland eager to get to work on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) during COP 24. The KJWA is a UNFCCC initiative directing the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to jointly consider how to tackle agriculture issues in the context of climate change.

Following the creation of the KJWA roadmap during the May 2018 intersessional in Bonn—which laid out an agenda of workshops, topic submissions, and workshop reports every six months between the 2018 intersessional and the end of 2020—negotiators agreed to continue their joint work on addressing issues related to agriculture, beginning with the first in-session workshop during COP 24 in Katowice. Over the course of the first week of the COP, it became clear that the negotiators were determined to keep the momentum going.

The first item on the agenda: negotiators discussed the modalities for implementation of the outcomes of the five in-session workshops on issues related to agriculture and other future topics, such as exploring potential synergies and ways to support advanced agriculture practices and technology, which may arise from this work.

During this workshop, the constituted bodies (CBs)—bodies of the UNFCCC that provide technical input and expertise to advance the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement—provided an overview of their work and how it could further the objectives of the KJWA. The Adaptation Committee, for example, agreed that, although its mandate is to provide technical advice to all, there is a need to bridge the gap between the general and the specific. Another CB, the Least Developed Countries Expert Group, discussed how it is carrying out its mandate through providing guidelines for National Adaptation Plans, training, and sector-specific supporting materials.

From the interventions of Parties and observers, like the coalition of land use experts that EDF is a part of and the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSA), it became clear that:

  • Many gaps and key linkages remain to be addressed with regards to how the CBs can contribute to the KJWA
  • More exchange of knowledge and resources is needed
  • More focus should be directed toward food security, resiliency, livelihoods, mitigation safeguards, gender equality, and risk management
  • The gap between the global and local context needs to be bridged so that global processes connect to decision makers on the ground
  • The process needs to maximize transparency and inclusiveness to broaden representation of key stakeholders, like farmers and environmental civil society organizations

Taking note of these interventions, the co-chairs produced draft text the night before the final session. The text cited, among other things, that the SBI and SBSTA welcomed the submissions from Parties and observers to serve as input to the workshop, invited the CBs to contribute to the work of the KJWA, asked Parties and observers to submit views on the topics of the next two workshops to be held in June (one is focused on adaptation, adaptation co-benefits, and resilience and the other on improved soil carbon, soil health, and soil fertility), and would continue to consider New Zealand’s proposal to host a workshop related to the Koronivia road map.

When the co-chairs presented the text to Parties the following afternoon, there were no objections signaling that Parties had reached consensus on the final text.

Although the conclusions procedural in nature, the fact that Parties were able to come together and produce broadly agreed upon text reinforced the energetic and optimistic tone of the negotiations, and provided a positive sign that they are intent on continuing the momentum for the KJWA and tackling the concerns listed above. While it is still unclear what the ultimate KJWA “modalities” will be or how these modalities will support action in agriculture, what is important is that the work is continuing full-steam ahead. In the lead up to the next KJWA workshops to be held in June, the report on the first workshop will be circulated, and Parties and observers will have the opportunity to submit their views on adaptation and resilience, and on soil health and water management – the topics of the June workshops.

The KJWA has been instrumental in highlighting both the importance of agriculture to achieving emissions reductions and the connections between climate change and agriculture. Ensuring that the KJWA is implemented, and that Parties continue to focus on how to address the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security, is essential. EDF will submit views, and continue to explore how to fill essential gaps, answer key questions, and assess the needs to continue the momentum towards the implementation of the KJWA.

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Forests could be a hot topic at COP 24 despite not being on the agenda

Tanew River in Poland. Jozef Babij, Flickr.

Katowice, Poland was an odd location to pick for this year’s UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 24). The city is small and its ambiance may not be very conducive for climate negotiations (it is frigid, dark, and shrouded with coal smog in December). Yet this is where the important task of finalizing the rules of the Paris Agreement will take place. And while not directly on the negotiations agenda, it will be an important venue for discussion on forest policy and actions being taken in the sector.

In 2017, progress on forest protection was mixed, according to the New York Declaration on Forests’ annual assessment. For example, forest loss significantly decreased in Indonesia, but increased in Brazil. One of its more tragic findings is that more indigenous leaders and forest protectors are being murdered while trying to protect their forests and lands.

How forests are to be covered at COP 24
While forests will not directly be negotiated in Katowice, the negotiation tracks for market mechanisms, transparency, and guidance for constructing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) will affect forests. Conserving forests requires that we use all financial resources possible – public, market, and non-market.

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Also posted in Paris Agreement, REDD+, United Nations / Read 1 Response

Four reasons why the California Air Resources Board should endorse the California Tropical Forest Standard

Tropical forests are key to halting global climate change. Destruction of these forests releases 14 to 19 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year, more than the emissions from all the world’s cars, trucks, and ships combined. Tropical forests also house an astounding array of plants and animals and provide livelihoods and the backbone of culture for indigenous and forest people around the world.

That’s why California’s proposed Tropical Forest Standard (TFS) is so important. It sets up a framework for carbon markets to credit greenhouse gas emission reductions to incentivize the protection of tropical forests, and sets the highest bar for social and environmental safeguards seen to date.

California is known as a global climate leader, but the most significant step the state can take right now is to endorse the Tropical Forest Standard to help avert climate catastrophe, protect biodiversity, and support the indigenous communities who depend on tropical forests. Watch the video "California and the Amazon are more interconnected than you might think."

We have a great opportunity to move the needle on tropical deforestation

The TFS would demonstrate what the state views as a legitimate standard by which to gauge any jurisdiction’s forest carbon program, and the emission reduction credits they could achieve for compliance carbon markets. It also lays out key elements that California would require of any program to consider in a potential future linkage.

The TFS sends the critical signal: think big, address emissions at a large scale, and develop partnerships with communities to ensure that the program provides benefits to those who are managing and protecting the forests. Now is an important time to influence other carbon markets as well as jurisdictions that are designing programs to address forest emissions.

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Also posted in California / Comments are closed

Tropical forest regions can greatly reduce commodity-driven deforestation: here’s how

Brazilian Amazon. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Brazilian Amazon. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Commitments to reduce deforestation in key commodity supply chains are on the rise, as are initiatives to implement them. EDF and colleagues at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies set out to map where such initiatives are underway. Specifically, they looked at areas where Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programs, jurisdictional approaches, and private sector actions are working to reduce deforestation driven by cattle, soy, palm oil, cocoa, and pulp and timber production.

In the peer-reviewed article Trifecta of Success for Reducing Commodity-Driven Deforestation, the authors determined which areas have the most potential for reducing commodity-driven deforestation at the scale and level needed to make a lasting impact. The findings can help companies and policymakers determine where to focus their implementation efforts.

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Also posted in Agriculture, Brazil, International, REDD+ / Read 1 Response

Tropical Trump bodes ill for the planet


Cattle grazing at a ranch where burned trees and the edge of the rainforest are still visible in Brazil. Shutterstock.

Jair Bolsonaro, the winner of Brazil’s presidential election, has been dubbed “Tropical Trump.” The parallels are strong – both Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump show clear contempt for democratic institutions, are on the record with racist and misogynist statements, and play on and inflame the fears and hatred of their supporters.

They are also both dangerous to the planet.

Both think they can put up a wall around their countries, ignore or affront the rest of the world, and stoke up their national economies with no regard whatsoever for the environment. Both believe that solving climate change would impede the ability to profit from exploiting natural resources.

This bedrock “me-first” provincialism isn’t just based on generic ignorance. It ignores the fact that we all share a single planet and increasingly, things that happen in one place affect other places – ecologically and economically.

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Also posted in Brazil, Paris Agreement / Comments are closed

The big news on forests you may have missed during the Global Climate Action Summit

Last week marked another significant achievement in California’s climate leadership, as the state hosted side-by-side global gatherings of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), and the tenth annual meeting of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, a multi-lateral organization of subnational jurisdictions, which California helped launch in 2008.

But California doesn’t just add to the notches in its environmental leadership by hosting meetings, drawing celebrities, and showcasing pledges.

It’s the work that underlies it all – years, even decades in the making – that gives California the heft to pull off these feats.

One of California’s real accomplishments that was overshadowed – undeservedly – by the summit was the release of the California Tropical Forest Standard, which would lay the groundwork to help protect tropical forests around the world by leveraging the state’s climate program and its global vision.

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Also posted in California / Read 1 Response