International action on aviation emissions: What's at stake in ICAO

If international aviation were a country, it would be a top ten emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), on par with Germany or the United Kingdom. And it’s expected to grow enormously: with more than 50,000 new large aircraft slated to take to the skies, its emissions are expected to triple or quadruple by 2040.

In Paris in December 2015, the world hailed the success of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in adopting the first broadly applicable instrument to start driving carbon pollution down, with a goal of limiting warming to 1.5-2° C.

But Paris didn’t cover pollution from flights between countries. Why not? Because in 1997, aviation lobbied for, and got, the UNFCCC to defer these to another UN body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ICAO talked about the issue for fifteen years until 2013, when, with Europe poised to enforce a cap on emissions of inbound/outbound flights, ICAO pledged to act by 2016. Quiet talks are now underway on:

  1. An ICAO CO2 standard for aircraft – akin to a miles-per-gallon standard for cars. In Montreal next week, possibly as early as Monday, February 8, 2016, a technical group is expected to agree a recommendation for this standard.
  1. A cap on international aviation’s total CO2 emissions at 2020 levels. ICAO is slated to vote in September 2016, on the cap and a market-based measure (MBM) to help airlines implement it.

Here’s what’s at stake:

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Source: Environmental Defense Fund

Without any new rules, international aviation’s carbon pollution is expected to skyrocket (top red line). Better air traffic control can trim some pollution (top red wedge). An ambitious CO2 standard would mean fewer emissions per passenger-mile, further slowing the sector’s emissions growth (blue wedge). But because the industry’s overall emissions are expected to far outstrip these per-trip efficiency gains, there’s still a huge gap (green triangle) – at least 6-8 billion tonnes – to get to the goal of an emissions cap at 2020 levels (red horizontal line), or even more ambitious goals along the lines of the Paris agreement (red dashed line).

The real prize is the market-based measure to cap aviation emissions and drive pollution down, not up.

Learn more at edf.org/aviation.

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New studies point to a pathway to find India’s most effective climate-smart farming practices

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EDF-Fair Climate Network science team training a new village volunteer to collect air samples from a groundnut farm. EDF and FCN have collaborated with international research groups to develop new greenhouse gas emission measurement techniques and train local groups to measure emissions during crop production. Source: Environmental Defense Fund, Rakesh Tiwari

Agriculture around the world is already experiencing the effects of the changing climate, including more intense droughts, heat waves, floods, and a growing influx of pests and diseases. This contributes to unstable livelihoods for the world’s 2 billion rural poor who depend on small-scale farms and live on the margins of the poverty line.

With these challenges, the world is increasingly shifting toward climate-smart agriculture, which the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines as an umbrella of agricultural practices that lead to a “triple win” because they:

  1. sustainably increase agricultural productivity and income;
  2. adapt and build agricultural resilience to climate change; and
  3. reduce and/or remove greenhouse gas emissions.

The FAO’s definition offers initial guidance for climate-smart agriculture. However, for the global scientific community, national policy makers, and those who care about global food security, there remains a need for more solid evidence around how the triple win can be achieved across geographies, crop types, and different farm scales, especially small-scale farms spread across much of the developing world.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has released two new peer-reviewed journal articles that contribute important evidence to support a triple-win approach to feeding the 9 billion people who will be living on this planet in 2050. In the first article, we present a rigorous pathway to measure climate impacts of farming practices, especially in the tropical and developing parts of the world. In the second article, we demonstrate that carefully chosen climate-smart farming practices can improve resource use efficiency, enhance food security, increase farmer savings, and provide better ecosystem services while decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

With our partners, we conducted the research in India, where there is a huge opportunity to implement climate-smart agriculture. India has 100 million small-scale (under 2 acres of land) farming families, which means it’s in the best interest of India and its farmers to learn to adapt in a way that maintains (and preferably improves) crop yields and secures their profitability while also reducing agricultural GHG emissions.

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Indonesia could curb deforestation and increase production with Zero Deforestation Zones

By Dana Miller, Research Analyst and Ruohong Cai, Ph.D. Economist

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A smoldering landscape in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Credit: Ruohong Cai, October, 2015

You may have seen news stories this fall about Indonesia and the blanket of haze choking the country and neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia. This haze comes from burning carbon rich forests and peat soils for the production of palm oil and other commodities; burning currently releases more greenhouse gases daily than the entire U.S. economy.

To address deforestation and the fires and haze it brings, companies that control 90% of palm oil production have pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. Several major palm oil companies have pledged not to clear High Carbon Stock (HCS) lands—high, medium and low density forests—or peatlands for palm oil and other commodities; instead the companies would shift new production to low carbon stock areas, which are young regenerating forest, scrub or cleared or open lands.

The Government of Indonesia pledged to reduce emissions by 26% unilaterally or 41% with international support below a projected "business as usual" baseline by 2020. This year, Indonesia committed to reduce emissions by 29% to 41% below a projected baseline by 2030.

In a new report, Environmental Defense Fund explores how companies could eliminate deforestation from their supply chains by preferentially sourcing palm oil and other commodities from provinces in Indonesia that meet criteria for Zero Deforestation Zones (ZDZs).

ZDZs would be districts or provinces that align public and private sector actors and are on a path to reaching zero net emissions from deforestation across their jurisdiction while increasing agricultural production. ZDZs would have strong policies in place consistent with the framework Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Then, companies could source commodities such as timber and palm oil from ZDZs.

For provinces in Indonesia to become ZDZs, local and national governments would have to address the root causes of deforestation.  Specifically, Indonesia would need to:

  • Revise laws that allow and even encourage deforestation; strengthen law enforcement; and address conflicting agendas between local and regional governments, ministries, and powerful private sector actors.
  • Create a definition for ZDZs that fits Indonesia’s national context. The definition would need to put provinces on pathways to produce zero net emissions from deforestation and comply with UN decisions on REDD+.
  • Set up monitoring systems that both the government and private sector would use to enforce deforestation policies and clarify disputed land claims by local communities and plantations.
  • Provide essential economic incentives to producers to reduce deforestation, increase yields on existing plantations, and shift new production to degraded lands.

Figure 1. This spatial map shows that the opportunity costs of the land translated into a minimum carbon price (local-specific) needed to eliminate deforestation in Kalimantan, Indonesia, which varies widely by location from $0 to $100 per ton CO2.

Economic Incentives for Reducing Deforestation in Kalimantan Provinces:

A carbon price could generate much needed economic incentives to reduce deforestation. To predict the carbon price needed to reduce emission from deforestation, EDF performed a 10-year simulation of deforestation in Kalimantan, Indonesia, using the historical relationship between palm oil revenues per hectare and deforestation rates to estimate landowners’ responses to economic incentives.  Kalimantan provides a good case study for Indonesia because it contributes one quarter of Indonesia’s palm oil production.

Based on our empirical analysis, the opportunity cost of conserving forest varies widely across Kalimantan. Figure 1 translates the opportunity cost of the land into a price per ton of carbon.

We further compared the cost in terms of dollars per ton of carbon for reducing emissions from deforestation on low carbon stock (LCS, less than 40 t C/ha) and high carbon stock (HCS, more than 40 t C/ha) lands. In Figure 2, at a carbon price of $10/t CO2e, Kalimantan provinces can reduce 75 million tons (Mt) CO2e per year from LCS areas, 185 MtCO2e from HCS areas, and 260 MtCO2e per year from both HCS and LCS areas. In the latter and highest scenario that conserves both HCS and LCS areas, Kalimantan could reduce emissions from deforestation 74-78% below the scenario without a carbon price.

Figure 2. Estimated cost curves for avoiding emissions from deforestation on high carbon stock lands (red), low carbon stock lands (yellow) and all lands (blue) in Kalimantan, Indonesia. This figure shows that more emissions can be avoided if Kalimantan conserves both high carbon stock and low carbon stock lands.

This result indicates that more emissions can be avoided at a lower cost if Kalimantan conserves portions of all lands, not just high carbon stock lands.

To further illustrate this point, the table below shows that Kalimantan could achieve its contribution to Indonesia’s emission reduction goals of 26% to 41% below business as usual by 2020 at a lower price if both high carbon stock and low carbon stock areas are conserved.

This shows that a “Zero Deforestation Zone” approach focused on an entire landscape has the potential to more cost-effectively reduce emissions than an approach focused on just a particular subset of lands.   This analysis does not consider the potential for “leakage” or shifts of deforestation from one location to another.  Incorporating leakage would lend a further argument for a regional approach that would capture shifts in deforestation across an entire zone.

Table_cost_year_reduction_target (1)

 

Indonesia has many hurdles to cross before it can level off its rapid deforestation rate and reduce it to zero. But, the haze, health implications, productivity loss and public outrage that ensue from peat fires might just be the wakeup call that Indonesia needs to address its deforestation.

 

Read more in our paper Zero Deforestation Zones in Indonesia; A proposal to curb deforestation and increase agricultural production.

 

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Report back from Paris: What the new climate deal means – and where we go from here

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Source: Flickr/ UNClimateChange

The United Nations climate agreement in Paris, and the intense negotiations leading up to it, were a breakthrough in a number of important ways.

First of all, the agreement represents the coming of age of climate diplomacy. It was evident from the beginning that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who chaired the talks, had the full trust and confidence of the room.

He artfully identified a zone of agreement among 196 delegations that gave nearly everyone something they wanted without crossing red lines.

The agreement was also the culmination of months of bilateral diplomacy at the highest levels, most visibly between the U.S. and China. The direct involvement of President Obama and other world leaders was critical to success – and shows a strategic savvy and leader-level involvement that we haven’t seen in past climate talks.

But it’s the language of the agreement itself, and the broad backing it received, that makes it such a big deal. It means that we now have a chance – not a guarantee, but a chance – to put the world on a healthier path.

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Three cheers for REDD+ and forests in the Paris Climate Agreement

By Chris MeyerSenior Manager, Amazon Forest Policy and Dana Miller, Research Analyst

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The Paris Agreement sends a strong signal for the forest protection policy REDD+. Credit: Flickr/Dams999

The Paris Agreement was a historic moment for the world, including the world’s forests. Now it is time to implement the agreement. But first, let’s take a moment to celebrate three important wins for forests and the framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

1) Article 5 on REDD+ signals political support for the existing internationally agreed framework

The Paris Agreement included a specific provision (Article 5, below) on forests and REDD+. Experts from EDF, Conservation International, Forest Trends, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Union of Concerned Scientists told press that this article “would send a strong political signal to support better protections for forests in developing countries and encourage developed nations to provide the financial incentives to do so.” This article also encourages “results-based payments”, which refers to a promising mechanism where donors pay for verified emissions reductions achieved through REDD+.

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Amazon states, global leaders in emissions reductions

Two states in the Brazilian Amazon — Mato Grosso and Pará emitted more greenhouse gases in 2004 than all but six nations in the world. More climate pollution than Japan. By 2012 they had cut emissions so dramatically, they dropped beneath 37 other countries.

This progress, achieved through reduced deforestation, is a major reason for the 80%  decline in Amazon deforestation between 2005 and 2014.

At the Paris climate conference, these two states rolled out plans for even more ambitious action.

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(source: Observatório de Clima SEEG)

Ambitious forest policy is key to climate progress

Slowing Amazon deforestation has kept over 4 billion tons of CO₂ out of the atmosphere since 2005, several times more than the EU’s emissions reductions from 2005 – 2011. Major causes of the decline include better remote sensing monitoring, ramped-up law enforcement, credit limitations, company commitments to zero-deforestation commodity supply chains, large-scale creation of protected areas and recognition of indigenous territories.

The bad news is that plans positive incentives – payments from polluters to preserve forests — have not materialized.  Consequently, while deforestation dropped to a historic low of 4,500 km² in 2012 (from a peak of 27,000 km² in 2004), it has crept back up to around 5,000 km² in recent years.

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Posted in Brazil, Deforestation, Indigenous peoples, REDD| Leave a comment
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