Author Archives: Chris Meyer

Can airlines help reduce deforestation?

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The global airline industry could become an ally in combating deforestation, as countries are set to vote at the September 2016 meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on whether airlines can use REDD+ credits to offset their emissions. Image Source: Flickr, Marinelson Almeida

A window of opportunity may be opening to secure sustainable financing – from an unusual source – to support national, state, and provincial-level efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

The global airline industry is seeking international agreement on a program to cap the carbon dioxide emissions of flights between countries, and let airlines use a Market-Based Measure (MBM) to offset emissions above the cap. When the 191 governments that comprise the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) vote on the MBM at the end of September, that may decide whether airlines can use REDD+ to offset their emissions above 2020 levels.

Why does ICAO need REDD+?

In 2013, ICAO member states adopted a goal of “carbon neutral growth from 2020” – i.e., capping the net emissions of international flights at 2020 levels. International aviation’s emissions, however, are forecasted to rise dramatically, as tens of thousands of new large aircraft take to the skies in coming decades.

Even after international aviation makes improvements in operational and technological efficiency, the sector will still likely face an “emissions gap” of 7.8 billion tonnes (or 7.8 Gt CO2) over the period of 2020-2040. National and jurisdictional level REDD+ projects that meet the environmental and social safeguards agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are anticipated to be able to supply offsets enabling aviation to cover a significant portion of the expected gap, even while ensuring that these reductions are not also claimed against national emission reduction commitments.

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The international aviation sector will still likely face an “emissions gap” of 7.8 billion tonnes over the period of 2020-2040 between their goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and their projected emissions – even after international aviation makes improvements in operational and technological efficiency. Image source: Flightpath 1.5

Getting the right REDD+ into ICAO: REDD+ programs that meet UNFCCC requirements

The December 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by the 197 Parties to the UNFCCC, gave special recognition to the key role that REDD+ can play in mitigating climate change.

The Paris Agreement, the UNFCCC’s 2013 Warsaw Framework on REDD+, and related UNFCCC Decisions provide that REDD+ programs must be created at national, or – temporarily – subnational (e.g. state and province) level. This is important because national and subnational REDD+ programs (collectively known as jurisdictional REDD+ or “JREDD+” programs) can create and enforce policies to address deforestation at a large scale.

For example, without jurisdictional REDD+, there’s a risk that forest protection in one project area could displace deforestation to other areas; this is avoided when REDD+ projects are “nested” in a national or jurisdictional-level program. According to guidance by the UNFCCC, JREDD+ programs’ results must be recognized by national REDD+ Focal Points and submitted to the REDD Information hub in order to ensure that emissions reductions are not claimed more than once.

ICAO’s timeline

In March and April, ICAO convened a set of regional dialogues to give governments, industry, and civil society stakeholders the opportunity to discuss MBM design options and potential sources of offsets. ICAO will convene a high-level ministerial meeting May 11-13 at ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada, to review a draft text. Additional meetings will be held throughout the summer and the final, and most important ICAO Assembly, where the MBM will be finalized, is to be held in Montreal from 27 September to 7 October 2016.

Seizing the opportunity

REDD+ countries interested in sustainable financing for their national and jurisdictional REDD+ programs should be aware of the potential for a new ICAO market based mechanism to provide such financing. In order to seize this opportunity, REDD+ policy makers and aviation counterparts need to collaborate to ensure an ICAO market based mechanism inclusive of REDD+ and with environmental integrity.

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What the Paris Agreement's references to indigenous peoples mean

By: Chris Meyer, Environmental Defense Fund, and Estebancio Castro, Independent Indigenous Leader

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The Paris Agreement makes five explicit references to indigenous peoples, their rights, and their traditional knowledge. Above: A report launched at a December 2015 press conference in Paris found indigenous territories hold one-fifth of the world’s tropical forest carbon. Credit: Environmental Defense Fund

Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but they can also play a crucial role in stabilizing the climate. Though the 1997 Kyoto Protocol didn’t include a single reference to indigenous peoples, the Paris Agreement– though not perfect – made some great strides.

The Paris Agreement and implementing decisions include:

  • five explicit references to indigenous peoples, their rights, and their traditional knowledge. These appear in the preambles of both the Paris Agreement and the Decision text, and in specific topic areas of the exchange of experiences and adaptation.
  • a reference to a topic important to indigenous peoples, non-carbon benefits in relation to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).

Importantly, the references to indigenous peoples in the preamble to the Paris Agreement, and repeated in the preamble to the Decision text, say that countries need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights when taking action to address climate change. It’s significant that this rights language is included in the preambles, as it ensures these rights will be part of the framing of the whole agreement and implementing decisions.

The Paris Agreement and its Decision texts contain important references to indigenous peoples' rights that can help drive change at the country levels, where it is most needed.

The other references to indigenous peoples discuss the need to include them in the exchange of knowledge, especially considering the topic of adaptation. As they are one of the more vulnerable groups, they will need access to more western knowledge to support their own indigenous knowledge about how to adapt to climate change and protect their livelihoods. Additionally, the Paris Agreement recognizes indigenous peoples' “traditional knowledge” as an asset for helping themselves – and their neighbors – adapt.

Indigenous peoples for many years advocated strongly for the consideration of non-carbon benefits as a part of REDD+, including through a number of formal submissions to the process. The inclusion of explicit language in the REDD+ article to promote non-carbon benefits reflects their efforts and the importance of the topic.

The Paris Agreement and its Decision text aren’t perfect, and though some may have wished to see a greater number of specific references to these rights in the text, the Paris outcome was kept intentionally broad so it could be applicable to nearly 200 countries.

Regardless, we see important references to indigenous peoples' rights in the Paris Agreement and its Decision texts that, together with other international human rights instruments, can now be leveraged to drive change at the country levels, where it is most needed. That is the challenge in the years to come – to ensure indigenous peoples and their rights are adequately represented and respected in countries’ policies and actions they take to implement the Paris Agreement.

Additional resources:

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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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Message from Paris: REDD+ Keeps Calm and Carries on

The REDD+ negotiators in Paris still have plenty of explicit and implicit references to REDD+ in the text that have a better-than-good chance of surviving this week.

While we would like to see an explicit reference to REDD+ in the Paris Agreement or its decisions that guide its implementation, what is most important for REDD+ is a good final Paris Agreement. That will provide the impetus for quicker implementation of REDD+ and the big, big signal some say it needs. This second week is when the ministers need to focus on delivering it.

The REDD+ negotiators have spent most of their time trying to unlock language around what some countries want to call the new “REDD+ Mechanism” (currently paragraph 3bis).

The COP21 climate negotiations on REDD+ made little progress last week – keep calm and see why here – while there was a flurry of announcements from countries regarding the implementation of REDD+.

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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.

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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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Posted in Deforestation, Forestry, Paris, REDD+| Leave a comment
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