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.

Also posted in Agriculture, Forest protection, United Nations / Leave a comment

COP 24: Transparency, ambition and carbon markets on the Paris rulebook agenda in Katowice

See EDF’s COP 24 materials and meet our Katowice team at

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

As the world’s leading climate scientists made clear in a recent special report, we are in the race of our lives against climate change, and we need to move faster. The Paris Agreement’s rapid entry into force in 2016 broke records, but records are also being broken outside of the UN that emphasize the urgency of action: record wildfires, record temperatures, record storms, record levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

So the stakes are high in Katowice, Poland, as countries meet to finalize the operating manual for the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. In 2016, countries set themselves a deadline of this year to complete their task. Once agreed, the Paris “rulebook” will guide them in their efforts to implement the Agreement, including how countries will measure, report and hold each other accountable to their Paris commitments.

Two interrelated issues will be particularly important for the rulebook discussions in Katowice.

First is how to operationalize the Paris Agreement’s transparency system; transparency is vital to strengthening ambition and to the success of the agreement itself.

Second is how that transparency system should link to a new framework for international carbon market cooperation designed to spur the deeper emissions cuts that climate science demands. Read More »

Also posted in Carbon Markets, United Nations / Comments are closed

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.

Read More »

Also posted in Forest protection, REDD+, United Nations / 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.

Read More »

Also posted in Brazil, Forest protection / Comments are closed

7 reasons avoiding double counting of emissions reductions helps countries, and the environment

Photo credit: iStock

Meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambitious goal – to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial level” – will necessitate dramatic reductions in total emissions of greenhouse gases.

Market-based approaches that follow well-established “rules of the road” for emissions accounting and transparency have a powerful role to play in helping countries to meet their near-term commitments as efficiently as possible, and in encouraging and even accelerating the broad and ambitious long-term climate action that the Paris Agreement demands.

By affirming a role for market-based approaches in Article 6, the Agreement recognizes the realities on the ground, where emission-trading systems are already at work in over 50 jurisdictions home to nearly 2 billion people. More than half of the world’s countries have so far expressed an interest in using carbon markets to meet their pledges, including for achievement of conditional targets, in their NDCs (“nationally determined contributions”) under the Paris Agreement.

But if the Paris Agreement goals are to be met, the risk of “double counting” emissions reductions must be avoided.

That is why the Paris Agreement rulebook to be finalized this December in Poland at COP 24 should clearly and unambiguously state that any country that voluntarily chooses to transfer some of its emissions reductions must transparently “add back” a corresponding amount of emissions to its own emissions account. This is known as a “corresponding adjustment,” and it should apply to all transfers: whether the transferred reductions occur inside or outside the country's NDC; and whether the reductions are being transferred to another country or to the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

A corresponding adjustment has clear environmental benefits for both participating countries and our shared climate. Here are 7 of them:

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Also posted in Aviation, Carbon Markets, United Nations / Comments are closed