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A number of issues still need to be resolved, but the scheme on reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) is likely to make progress at the climate conference, says the chairman of the REDD talks within the UN climate negotiations. The potential is an agreement on a carbon trading scheme worth billions of dollars a year from 2013.
"I think it's a foregone conclusion that REDD will be part of the new agreement. Ironically it's actually the most advanced now," says Tony La Vina, chair of the REDD negotiations, to Reuters.
La Vina adds that the scheme still faces hurdles and more talks are needed. Among remaining issues to be solved are finalizing which institutions will manage the cash, ensuring developing nations a say in how to use the money and deciding the extent of the market's role in providing some or all of the funds. While financing is a major problem in the parts of the climate negotiations on mitigation and adaptation to global warming in developing countries, money is not the problem for REDD.
"Developed countries are at the door with the funding and the capacity-building and support and they just want to make sure certain things are met," says Tony La Vina to Reuters.
Paul Winn, forest and climate campaigner for Greenpeace Australia, says that "if anything is going to be delivered at Copenhagen it's going to be REDD."
"That is because we are looking at a huge global emissions source. There is also the recognition that it is a relatively cheap, easy form of emissions reductions," he tells Reuters.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - While nations bicker over the size of emissions cuts and climate funds, saving forests has turned out to be among the least contentious issues in U.N. climate talks and has achieved the most progress.

The reason, analysts and the world body say, is that curbing deforestation is an easy win for the climate and most countries support a U.N. scheme that aims to reward developing nations for protecting their remaining forests.

That bodes well for major U.N. climate talks that start next Monday in Copenhagen, where the scheme, called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), is likely to make further progress, though a number of issues need to be resolved.

Investors such as banks and some rich nations are pushing for REDD to be a success, potentially ushering in a carbon trading scheme from 2013 that could be worth billions of dollars a year.

"If anything is going to be delivered at Copenhagen it's going to be REDD," said Paul Winn, forest and climate campaigner for Greenpeace Australia.

"That is because we are looking at a huge global emissions source. There is also the recognition that it is a relatively cheap, easy form of emissions reductions," he told Reuters.

Forests soak up huge amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide, such as emissions from burning fossil fuels. But the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization says about 13 million hectares (32.5 million acres), or an area roughly the size of England, are destroyed annually.

That means deforestation contributes about 20 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the U.N. climate panel, although a recent study says new calculations show the figure is about 12 percent.


"I think it's a foregone conclusion that REDD will be part of the new agreement. Ironically it's actually the most advanced now," said Tony La Vina, chairman of the REDD negotiations within the U.N. climate talks.

La Vina, of the Philippines, says the scheme still faced hurdles and more talks were needed to seal a broad framework.

But he said he had been surprised that, overall, the issue had been far less contentious than other parts of the climate negotiations, such as emissions targets and funding to help poorer nations adapt to global warming.

Financing for REDD was not a problem, he said.

"Developed countries are at the door with the funding and the capacity-building and support and they just want to make sure certain things are met," he said.

Bigger problems were trying to finalize which institutions would manage the cash, how to ensure developing nations had a say in how to use the money and the extent of the market's role in providing some or eventually all of the funds.

The broad idea of REDD is to reward developing countries with valuable carbon offsets for every tonne of CO2 that is saved from being emitted by protecting forests and rehabilitating them through replanting or sustainable management.

The problem is that such carbon measurement and accounting is complex and time-consuming to put in place, requires laws to be enacted, officials to be trained and investors to be assured that the scheme won't be undermined by corruption.

Ensuring the forests aren't simply cut down later, or that deforestation is displaced to another region or country, is another concern, and analysts say REDD's final technical design will have to take account of these issues.


More immediately, La Vina said there was still debate in the negotiations over the role of the market.

"My reading is that the debate is not really about control. It's really about offsets," La Vina said, with some developing nations fundamentally opposed to REDD using carbon credits.

La Vina said there had been fights over how to enshrine the legal rights of indigenous people in a formal REDD pact and wording to protect the conversion of natural forests into plantations. But he expected further negotiations in Copenhagen and perhaps afterward would iron out differences.

Another issue is how to get nations up to speed for REDD.

The draft text backs a phased-in approach, allowing poorer countries to build up capacity to implement REDD projects on the ground depending on their circumstances before finally moving into actions that are measured according to results.

Winn of Greenpeace said one idea was to focus initially on setting benchmarks for curbing deforestation, so-called proxies, since this was easier.

"With deforestation proxies, you can do it at a national level, it is reasonably easily measured by satellite monitoring and you don't have get into more difficult areas of working how much carbon each hectare of forest (is locked away)," said Winn.

There was likely to be strong political pressure in Copenhagen to champion REDD, said Andrew Deutz director of international government relations at the Nature Conservancy but a formal agreement on REDD might have to wait till all the other pieces of a U.N. climate puzzle fell into place.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


Issued by:  Reuters

Author: David Fogarty


Issue date: December 1, 2009

Link to Article: Origin of this text

At Copenhagen climate change talks, researchers tout keeping trees as a solution

Researchers at the Copenhagen global warning talks say they're finding success in reducing emissions by encouraging tropical countries to protect their forests.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – If you want to help apply the brakes to global warming, save some trees – especially if they are in the tropics.

That's the simple idea behind one approach to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. And it's gained enough traction to become one of the few success stories so far at UN-sponsored global warming summit here in Copenhagen.

Delegates from more than 190 countries are grappling with difficult issues of money and emissions targets as they try to craft a follow-on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

But while negotiators engage in diplomatic arm wrestling over emissions reductions and funding to help poor countries adopt cleaner technologies, and scientists present evidence of the dangers of carbon emissions, they are having a much easier time getting behind avoiding additional carbon dioxide (C02) emissions by keeping trees in the ground. It's an approach known by the acronym "REDD."

Talks over REDD's inclusion in any new climate agreement "are moving very well," said Markku Kanninen, senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia. "It's one of the few issues that have no big difficulties," he told reporters.

In many ways, the approach is seen as low-hanging fruit in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Tropical forests are losing some 32 million acres a year, researchers say. This pumps about 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

During the 1990s, deforestation accounted for some 20 percent of global CO2 emissions from human activities. That fell to 12 percent in 2008, according to the latest figures from the Global Carbon Project. Others have dubbed that an underestimate. And scientists with the project acknowledge large uncertainties in their estimate.

Still, holding back deforestation and forest degradation can be an important arrow in the emissions-mitigation quiver, many analysts say. And it provides a way for developing countries, who have resisted economy-wide emission reductions as a threat to lifting their people out of poverty, to take an active role in the fight against global warming.

Last month, for instance, Brazil offered to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 36 to 39 percent below current levels by 2020. Some 80 percent of those cuts would come from halting deforestation. The offer hinges on getting sufficient aid from rich countries to ramp up the country's efforts.

On Tuesday, negotiators made significant progress on the scientific and technical issues surrounding REDD, according to Rane Cortez, a forest carbon-policy advisor for the Nature Conservancy, an international conservation group that has helped pioneer the concept.

Specific language is still being worked out, she says. But the current draft includes advice on how countries can address the local factors driving deforestation. The draft has provisions for monitoring and ways to figure out how many tons of carbon emissions have been retained rather than released into the atmosphere.

Finally, negotiators are trying to ensure local people are treated fairly if their traditional lands become the focus of REDD projects. And negotiators are working on language aimed at actively engaging forest residents in monitoring and verification efforts.

But issues remain to be worked out regarding property rights – critical for determining who gets any money from the sale of carbon credits earned through avoiding deforestation. And negotiators are haggling over provisions that could be interpreted as giving traditional forest owners veto power over projects on their lands – something governments trying to adopt "national" REDD programs balk at.

Still, given the resistance to the REDD idea among many indigenous groups when the concept was first proposed in 2005, "I'm impressed with how far we've come," says Tracy Johns, a policy analyst at the Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, Mass.

Whatever the outcome, REDD is a CO2 emission-control approach that several developing countries can dig into quickly. In the past year, some 40 countries started to lay the groundwork for participating in a REDD program, according to Arild Angelsen, an economist at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences who compiled a new CIFOR report on REDD, released today.

But he and his CIFOR colleagues caution that the path to implementing REDD will be rocky. Some countries are better prepared to dive in than others. Poorer countries might want to start indirectly, by changing agriculture and land-use polices, rather than immediately adopting a turn-key system for monitoring and enforcing deforestation efforts directly. Much hinges on the long and short-term financial commitments rich countries may promise in any new climate agreement.

In the meantime, roughly 100 projects of varying size are underway as countries experiment with REDD-like mechanisms.

The Nature Conservancy, for instance, is working with the district of Berau in Indonesian Borneo and with the Indonesian government to set up a REDD mechanisms there. The program is the next iteration of a pilot project the Conservancy undertook in the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in Bolivia. The effort was the first REDD project to earn independent certification for avoiding emissions, although Nature Conservancy officials acknowledge that the project was not an unqualified success.

By scaling an experiment up to an entire political district – which is the size of Belize – rather than covering one national park, the team hopes to take lessons learned from Noel Kempff and apply them in a larger setting that begins to approach the political and economic complexity of an entire country. Local communities hold title to some of the land. Other tracts are used for palm-oil plantations, mining, and timber harvesting.

"Working out a strategy for all those land-use types and for all of those stakeholders really helps us picture how a national system might work," Ms. Cortez says.


Issued by:  The Christian Science Monitor

Author: Peter N. Spotts


Issue date: December 9, 2009

Link to Article: Origin of this text


Extpub | by Dr. Radut