Bonn 3: REDD Text Reaches Crossroads

Climate and Tropical Forests Policy Expert Gus Silva-Chavez writes from Bonn

Bonn 3 achieved a fairly amazing amount of progress on the question of how to include tropical deforestation in a climate deal – known in UN-speak as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD.

The main negotiating text for REDD (which could be relevant to several dozens of tropical forest nations and help mitigate some 15% of global emissions) was consolidated down to about 15 pages, with five pages of redundant issues cut out. This was very, very good.

However, Norway took the initiative to consolidate the REDD text on its own parallel track, and managed to get its version down to just five pages.

Most countries were pleased with the progress, but then the question remained on which version to use? The 15-page version which had input from everyone? Or Norway’s five-page version, an honest attempt at consolidation, but one that relies a great deal on Norway’s interpretation of some key issues.

Fast… or Inclusive?
On the one hand, the shorter version could help speed negotiations in Bangkok. But then there’s the risk that some countries might feel left out and start adding text back in. Then we’re back at square one.

The longer text on the other hand includes everyone’s view, including contributions from EDF and other environmental NGOs. But at 15 pages, there’s still a lot of whittling to be done.

One country said today that they hoped the final REDD text in Copenhagen could be trimmed down to just five…..paragraphs!

So clearly we still have a ways to go. But with 190 + countries, the UN process is slow, and sometimes you have to remind yourself that it’s intentionally so.

Among the best news coming out of Bonn 3 – at least for me – was that the U.S. delegation was quite constructive. This is a real change from a year ago. So onwards to Bangkok where the really tough negotiating and compromising will begin.

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