Asia Pacific negotiators hope for decision on REDD+ financing in Durban

BOGOR, Indonesia (21 November 2011)__ Countries in the Asia Pacific hope to get a decision on the financial mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) at the U.N. climate summit in Durban, negotiators said, despite low expectations that an overarching global agreement will be reached at the meeting.
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Delegates at UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007. Photo courtesy of Ng Swan Ti/Oxfam

BOGOR, Indonesia (21 November 2011)__ Countries in the Asia Pacific hope to get a decision on the financial mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) at the U.N. climate summit in Durban, negotiators said, despite low expectations that an overarching global agreement will be reached at the meeting.

“We hope the long-term finance for supporting REDD+ implementation will be settled as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Chunfeng Wang, who has been designated by State Forestry Administration of China as the country’s head of forest-related negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Achieving concrete outcomes on REDD+ in the next round of climate negotiations wouldn’t be easy as the mechanism is closely linked with other relevant issues, he said in an e-mail to CIFOR’s Forests blog.

REDD+ needs a legally-binding international agreement with emission cut targets that will create demand for forest carbon credits in order to significantly reduce deforestation in developing countries, experts have said. Climate change negotiators who will convene in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December are expected to focus on determining what will happen after the Kyoto Protocol, the existing global accord to limit greenhouse gases emissions, expires in 2012.

The main challenge to significant progress in Durban is “whether developed countries are willing to continue with the second commitment of Kyoto Protocol,” said Dr. Wang. India also lists the push for “Kyoto II” as the key concern that may stall climate change negotiations, according to Vitay R.S. Rawat, a negotiator from the South Asian country.

Although REDD+ financing is being “held hostage” to a legally binding and overarching climate change mitigation framework, there are multiple options for moving ahead, said Antonio La Viña, facilitator of REDD+ negotiations in the UNFCCC meetings (watch his interview here). These include multilateral and bilateral funds as well as private sector participation, for example as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.

Aside from a decision about REDD+ financing, India hopes that the Durban summit will make progress on methodological aspects, including a system of safeguards, said Rawat. The climate talks in Cancun last year mandated the development of safeguards mechanisms to ensure the protection of the rights of local and indigenous communities and ensure their participation in REDD+ processes. Australia expects to see progress in the information system for safeguards and reference levels in Durban, said Louise Hand, the country’s Ambassador for Climate Change.

Postponing the next global climate agreement?

Governments of the world’s richest economies “privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest,” the Guardian reported today, without citing its sources. Countries including the United States, Japan and Russia have said that they would not sign an international consensus that is structured similarly to Kyoto, which exempted developing nations from binding emission targets. They argue that economies like China and India, whose greenhouse gases output jump as their GDPs expand, should have legally-binding carbon limits as well.

“Historical responsibility of developed countries in GHG emissions cannot be simply neglected, even canceled,” said Dr. Wang, echoing the principle of ‘common-but-differentiated responsibility’ under the Kyoto Protocol. “It is really unfair to forget historical responsibility, while just focusing on increasing GHG today,” he said.

Despite possible hurdles in the umbrella agreement, there is optimism, including from Australia, that negotiations on REDD+ still have a lot of support in the U.N. summit. “We have been pleased that countries have worked well together on this (REDD+) in the past and are confident that we will continue to do so in Durban,” said Hand.

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