As momentum continues to build in the runup to the Paris COP21 climate negotiations in December later this year, a milestone has been reached for forests during the preliminary meeting in Bonn, Germany. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change intersessional meeting took place on 1-11 June and saw the final technical issues for the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) agreed upon after a full decade of negotiations. This is great news, as REDD+ is now poised to be a pillar of mitigation and finance for a binding deal in Paris later this year.
The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes, protecting forests around the world with 56 partner nations spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. REDD+ aims to reduce emissions related to deforestation and forest degradation, which account for around 14%-17% of global emissions. The ‘+’ stands for the ‘co-benefits’ (benefits not related to reducing emissions), which importantly includes the safeguarding of forest dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation.
After significant progress had been made during COP19 in Warsaw, Poland with the The Warsaw Framework (a package of seven decisions on REDD+), delegates in Bonn finalised requirements in REDD+ regarding further guidance for safeguards, non-market-based approaches and non-carbon benefits. This covered results-based payments and identified drivers of deforestation as well as the formation of a contact group tasked with delivering guidance on non-carbon benefits and non-market approaches. These were agreed upon, much to the surprise to all that are involved, 6 months ahead of schedule, freeing up time during COP21 to start talking about on-the-ground implementation methods and policies.
In more detail, the REDD+ compromise agreements outlined the following three decisions. The first agreement from Bonn was binding finance to the standards of safeguarding and have safeguards clearly communicated. The second was regarding non-market-based approaches, promoted by Bolivia, which would not allow REDD+ offset credits to be sold in the carbon markets. However, the agreement allows all sources of funding to be available, including carbon markets, at the discretion of each nation. Finally, the last agreement was regarding methodological issues related to non-carbon benefits. This decision was rather weak, providing only general guidance rather than methodological guidance, but allows countries to receive funding for them. This rather weak decision probably reflects the fatigue and exhaustion from those involved in this ten year journey.
Another key focus for Bonn was to create a shorter and more manageable REDD+ text, which has been largely successful, with a tightly structured and concise new document. The next major step is to agree upon what elements will be put into the Paris agreement text in December. There are another two more meetings to refine the text, and agree on what will be brought to Paris and put in front of the Heads of State and Ministers.
Although there is still work to be done, REDD+ is now ahead of schedule and the UN process has had a significant success. Compromise and agreement have been achieved from all 192 nations. A productive two weeks has made the possibility of a deal in Paris ebb a little closer.