REDD+ in Paris: Follow the money

In Paris, announcements on REDD+ finance and implementation by governments, companies and indigenous peoples will be as important as negotiations around text. Image: Flickr

In Paris, announcements on REDD+ finance and implementation by governments, companies and indigenous peoples will be as important as negotiations around text. Image: Flickr

The biggest tip-off as to how REDD+ will fare in Paris will come early on in the conference.

Heads of state and ministers are expected to announce new financial support for REDD+ countries on the Dec. 1, the second day of the climate talks, at the Lima Paris Action Agenda event on forests.

This financial support will target readiness—how prepared a country is to implement REDD+ programs—and results—the financial rewards a country will receive for verified emissions reductions.

At the same time, we expect to hear from REDD+ countries themselves about their progress in completing key milestones in the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. They’ll be addressing reference emission levels, REDD+ national strategies, and status reports on the implementation of safeguard information systems.

Where do businesses and states fit in?

Private sector engagement is also critical for REDD+. Companies could announce in Paris how they will implement their existing zero deforestation commitments. Those announcements need to be in line with policy efforts by REDD+ countries’ governments to ensure effectiveness by both sectors. Earlier this year, EDF proposed the Zero Deforestation Zone framework for how both the private and public sectors could align their efforts.

Brazilian states of Acre, Mato Grosso, and Para have already started to coordinate efforts by public and private sectors. We expect their governors, local non-governmental organizations, and multinational companies operating in those states to offer up details on their progress towards reducing deforestation. Those announcements will most likely happen at side events and receptions near the end of the first week and start of the second week of talks.

Indigenous peoples have their say

We expect new studies that will highlight the critical role indigenous peoples play in conserving tropical forests and eventual climate stability. Delegations of indigenous leaders will also share their climate change experiences at the Lima Paris Action Agenda event on forests, UNFCCC side events, panels at the indigenous peoples’ pavilion, and many other event spaces.

What about the politics?

REDD+ was an important part of climate progress made at the last two Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw and Lima. Because of that, we don’t expect REDD+ or forests to be the primary focus of negotiators trying to finalize a Paris Agreement.

And that’s fine. Check out what we think about the politics of it all here. The Paris Agreement needs to deliver on a much broader set of tools and a framework that will support future actions in the land sector, including REDD+.

The Paris framework should ensure integrity in accounting for activities in the land sector, including REDD+, agriculture and other issues.  The text needs to encourage all countries to reduce emissions and increase removals by sinks because land use is the only sector that can absorb a significant amount of greenhouse gases. And, it will be crucial that land use policies and actions protect food security, ecosystems and people.

To take the real measure of whether Paris advances REDD+ we will be watching what happens on the parallel announcements about the financing and implementation of REDD+.  Like I said, follow the money.



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To know what the United States is really doing on climate change, look past the political theater

Photo of U.S. Capitol

The U.S. Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program to cut carbon pollution from the country's largest emitting sector, electric generating stations – is here to stay. Image: cropped photo from Flickr/ USCapitol.

It’s always hard to interpret political maneuvering in other countries. Governments resign, coalitions form, legislation means something other than what it seems to mean. So in the coming weeks, when newspapers around the world run headlines saying “U.S. Congress Votes to Overturn Clean Power Plan,” their readers may be forgiven for some confusion about America’s position coming into the Paris climate talks.

The first and most important thing to understand is that the Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program to cut carbon pollution from our largest emitting sector, electric generating stations – is here to stay. Bills to “block” the Plan may pass the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, but they will go no further. That is because those bills cannot become law unless President Obama signs them. He has made it abundantly clear that he won’t agree to dismantle his leading climate initiative.

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Don’t see REDD+ in the final Paris climate text? Look closer.

REDD+ and the land sector are already embedded in the UNFCCC, regardless of whether REDD+ is mentioned in the Paris text. Credit: Abigail's blog.

It’s hard to find a group more supportive than EDF of policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). With our Brazilian partners IPAM and ISA, we helped pioneer the concept, which places a value on living forests and ecosystems, and rewards forest protectors. That means states, such as Acre, Brazil, and countries that have significantly reduced emissions from deforestation could produce credits that companies could use for compliance with carbon markets.

REDD+ and the land sector will be in the Paris agreement – even if just between the lines.

The world’s land use, such as forests and agriculture, accounts for nearly a quarter of global emissions –and absorbs a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

It might seem, then, that we would be concerned if REDD+ isn’t explicitly mentioned in the final Paris agreement, an accord that over 190 countries will negotiate this December. We’re not. Here’s why.

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4 wins we need to make the Paris climate talks a success

Christiana Figueres photo

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, will lead the climate conference that kicks off in Paris on Nov. 30, 2015. Source: Flickr/ UNclimatechange

In just a few weeks, negotiators from nearly every country in the world will gather at a sprawling airfield outside Paris to secure a new international agreement on climate change.

The goal of the Paris gathering – known as the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP21 – is a verifiable accord that allows countries to make and meet commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris agreement can also establish the rules of the road for how countries monitor and report their emissions and reductions – so that the rest of the world knows that they are following through, and can hold accountable those who do not.

Of course, we already know that COP21 won’t solve everything.

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3 reasons why the land sector is key to a Paris climate agreement

Trees in a forest

The Paris climate agreement should incorporate the land sector, which includes agriculture and deforestation, in a way that makes best use of its potential for mitigation, adaptation and development. Credit: flickr/final gather

Land use—such as agriculture and forests—accounts for almost a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.

It’s obvious that land use will play a major role in curbing the impact of climate change—and  here are three big reasons why the land sector will be key to an agreement made in Paris:

1) The land sector has huge mitigation potential:

The land sector accounts for about 24% of net global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, it has huge potential to reduce emissions, as well. Forests alone could absorb up to 11% of emissions. The IPCC also estimates that the land sector could provide 20-60% of cumulative mitigation by 2030. Without significant efforts to reduce emissions and enhance sequestration, it will be very difficult to stabilize warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

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Why recent climate pledges show we're in a new paradigm of climate action

More than 150 countries, in blue, have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The pledges account for approximately 90% of greenhouse gas emissions. Source: WRI CAIT Climate Data Explorer as of Nov. 3, 2015.

With urgent action needed to limit the carbon pollution that is already affecting the lives of millions around the world, the global community has been watching closely the post-2020 emissions targets (known as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” or INDCs) that countries are announcing over the course of this year.

The informal deadline for submission of these INDCs was October 1, and as of now, more than 150 countries have stepped forward to publish their INDCs and allow public review. These include the world’s biggest carbon polluters by absolute quantity: China, the United States, the EU, and India.

All told, we now know the post-2020 emissions pledges of countries accounting for approximately 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

These INDCs will form an important part of a new, global climate agreement that 195 countries aim to complete in Paris this December. INDCs provide an opportunity to take a sneak peek not only into our post-2020 emissions future, but also at the tools and policies countries believe can help drive the deep reductions in carbon pollution needed to avert the worst effects of climate change. Read More »

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