Selected category: UN negotiations

How carbon markets are driving deeper, faster pollution cuts in Paris climate pledges

Among the 170+ countries that have submitted their carbon-cutting plans — known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or “INDCs” — more than half have either stated their intention to use international carbon markets to tackle carbon pollution, or are already employing them domestically. Image source: cropped INDC map from IETA's INDC Tracker

With only a few days before nations meet in Paris to negotiate an inclusive post-2020 structure for global climate cooperation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we already know that the world will be entering a new paradigm of climate action, in which all nations play a role in the collective fight against climate change.

We also know that while the emissions reductions pledged for 2025 or 2030 by over 170 countries over the course of this year are significant, aggressive additional action well beyond 2030 will be necessary to meet the internationally agreed goal of limiting global average atmospheric warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That goal is the upper limit agreed by the international community, at a level that scientists believe would likely avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Because the Paris pledges mark only the beginning of a new era of climate cooperation, it is imperative that an effective international climate agreement promotes greater and greater ambition as it matures. A successful Paris agreement can thus set the stage for the world to turn the corner on global emissions.

Even before they arrive in Paris, countries have started identifying effective tools that can be used to accelerate ambition over time, so that the UNFCCC’s objective – to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” – can be met.

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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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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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Also posted in Agriculture, Deforestation, Forestry, Indigenous peoples, Paris, REDD| Leave a comment
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