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.
(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.
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+.
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.
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.
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.
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.