Bonn climate talks: Forest-rich nations need progress on MRV and REDD+ financing

Rainforest in Papua, Indonesia, Manuel Bossiere\CIFOR

 

BONN, Germany (16 May 2012)__ Discussions on how mitigation and adaptation funds will be raised and used in the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol from 2013-2020 will be key during the climate change talks in Bonn to ensure that REDD+ can move forward. Forest-rich nations cannot wait much longer without progress in financing, said an expert.

REDD+ cannot wait for the new climate treaty that is scheduled to start in 2020 before receiving adequate funding to move past pilot projects, said Louis Verchot, leading climate change scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “We’ve been talking about this (REDD+) since 2005. We can’t just be talking about it for 15 years and not actually get something going on the ground,” Verchot said yesterday. “Countries are going to have to commit money and commit much more money.”

Negotiators will also need to discuss the details of a robust measurement, reporting and verifying mechanism (MRV) agreed during the last round of talks in Durban, South Africa, said Verchot. This includes how to implement a “stepwise approach” used to set emission levels against which carbon cuts will be measured under REDD+ schemes (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).

During the next two weeks of SBSTA meetings, parties of the scientific and technical bodies of the UNFCCC will shape a draft text to develop and move forward with the agreements reached at the Conference of Parties (COP) 17 in Durban into the next round of climate talks in Doha, Qatar.

“Countries have provided written input on the content of a decision on the modalities, or implementation parameters before arriving here in Bonn. In the coming days, they will sift through that input and formulate a draft decision,” said Verchot, who has taken part in the climate change negotiations for nine years. “We should come out of this meeting with the major headings of the decisions and some draft text that will be negotiated between now and December.”

Financing

One of the major climate decisions reached last year was an agreement to have a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol for five or eight years as a bridge before a new treaty comes into effect by 2020. The current legally-binding climate treaty does not include REDD+ and is set to expire this year.

Even if negotiators do not specifically discuss REDD+ financing in SBSTA, it is hoped that talks of overall financing in the second commitment period of Kyoto will give some indication of how mitigation and adaptation efforts are going to be funded, said Verchot. “That may have a bigger impact on REDD+, enabling things to move forward.”

Developing countries are already moving ahead with REDD+ preparations, including drafting regulations, establishing supporting institutions and developing pilot projects — at least 340 pilot projects are now underway. However, research has shown that many REDD+ developers are cautious to inform local communities about the global forest carbon scheme to avoid raising expectations if long-term financing fails to materialise.

Currently REDD+ is mainly publicly funded through multilateral and bilateral partnerships. However, the distribution of funds to countries preparing for REDD programmes has been slow, raising concerns that forest-rich countries will get frustrated with the scheme.

An estimated $7.2 billion has been committed to REDD+ since 2008, but disbursements are far below this level. An additional $4.5 billion has been pledged as “Fast Start” finance for 2010-2012, but a significant proportion of this has yet to be allocated. For example, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by the UK government in July 2011, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility has disbursed only 8 percent of its funds since its inception in 2008.

Negotiators also agreed in Durban to set up a body to distribute and manage the Green Climate Fund, which is expected to spend $100 billion annually from 2020 onwards to finance mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries, with the possibility of including REDD+. However, the question on how the money will be raised remains unanswered.

Measurement, reporting and verifying (MRV)

Parties in the SBSTA meeting will also discuss the requirements for forested nations to determine their reference emission levels, which are the business-as-usual benchmark against which emission cuts from REDD+ will be measured. They have opted for a “stepwise approach”, which essentially allows forested- countries to use simple MRV methods in the preparatory phase of REDD+, which will then be developed into a more complex, and more reliably accurate accounting systems, in the future.

Such an approach will ensure that all countries, even those lacking detailed data and institutions to accurately measure emissions, will be able to join REDD+ schemes immediately, said Verchot.  It also clearly lays out the pathway for a country to improve.

Another issue to be discussed is how to integrate MRV requirements in REDD+ with those in Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), which are other voluntary policies and actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gases emissions by developing countries. “The parties want to make sure that there’s no double counting of emissions and that the two schemes are compatible with each other,” said Verchot.

Developing countries were strongly encouraged in Durbanto develop NAMAs and low emissions development strategies, which can be also used to leverage financial assistance from donors, said Neeraj Prasad, Manager for the Climate Change Practice at the World Bank Institute. There’s an emerging idea to keep a registry of NAMAs, from where bilateral donors could seek matches with their funding plans, he said.

Agriculture

In Durban, the COP also agreed to hold a broad agenda-setting discussion on agriculture under SBSTA. This will touch on the role of agriculture as a driver of deforestation, as forests face increasing pressure with the burgeoning global population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, demanding more land for food production.

“The discussions on agriculture look likely to move forward and will be held separately from those on REDD+,” Verchot said. These negotiations should lay out plans for establishing a mechanism for helping agriculture to adapt to new stresses imposed by climate change, including technical and financial support of vulnerable countries like the least developed countries, and for integrating agricultural emissions reductions into NAMAs.

CIFOR will hold a side event entitled “Insights into REDD+ realities: Politics, MRV and benefit sharing” at the sidelines of SBSTA meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Wednesday, 16 May, at 18:15–19:45 in WIND room at the Ministry of Environment building.