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Funding for carbon trading projects halted

The Citizen, Tanzania

Funding for a carbon trading system known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) has been suspended until further negotiations between poor countries and powerful industrial nations.

“The postponement of REDD at the COP 17 Durban Conference was due to the fact that there was no consensus about the approach of disbursing funds to developing countries from developed countries.While most of members from developed nations proposed to channel funds through the private sector, many representatives of developing countries were for channeling the funds through governments,” said Mr Mfugale who also attended the conference.

He said the issue has been postponed until next meeting slated for this November in Qatar, whereby representatives from developing and developed countries must reach consensus on the modality of channeling REDD funds.Asked what his position was, he said he would rather support the channeling of funds through the private sector based on competition among players to ensure transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in the use of funds to meet the intended objectives of REDD.

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CIFOR: Are you still wondering what happened at COP17 with REDD+?

The latest newsletter of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) provides an assessment of the outcomes of the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), concluding that it delivered mixed results for forests.

The January 2012 issue of the CIFOR newsletter cites progress on carbon accounting for REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries), but highlights a weak decision on social and environmental safeguards at COP 17.

The CIFOR blog posting underlines that REDD+ negotiations centered around finance, safeguards, reference levels and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV). CIFOR scientists note that, while the decision on finance leaves the door open for markets, funds or a combination of both, the rules are not certain enough to generate market confidence. In contrast, CIFOR underscores that the meeting provided a decision on robust reference levels. The newsletter also provides an overview of Forest Day 5 and calls on readers to fill out a survey on priorities for Forest Day 6 at COP 18.

In addition, the publication features an article on a CIFOR workshop on conservation of great apes, with a call for ape conservation to be integral to REDD+. CIFOR is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). [Publication: CIFOR Newsletter January 2012]

When I am asked if I am depressed about the results of Durban, my answer is an emphatic no. We did have a result and made some progress. And with so many young people working with us now on climate change, how could I not say that we made progress on climate change in Durban?

Tony La Viña, REDD+ facilitator

If you want to read a short overview about Forest Carbon Results - follow this link to EcosystemMarketPlace...

or read more details about COP 17 - Durban results here

The Climate & Development Knowledge Network

Will McFarland is REDD-net coordinator (acting) and programme officer in the Climate Change, Environment and Forests team at Overseas Development Institute.

Advocacy groups have consistently fought to protect forest communities from negative impacts of REDD+ activites, aiming to mitigate potential harm through application of safeguards in the design and monitoring of REDD+ policies. Concerns were raised pre-CoP about how much the World Bank really wanted to retain its commitment to its operational safeguards, and, building on Cancun, these safeguards were another key area of debate at Durban. While a restatement of the importance of safeguards ‘regardless of the source or type of finance’ was included in the final text, a lack of progress over defining these safeguards angered some observers. Instead of a text defining the performance levels that need to be be achieved, the outcomes primarlily document the steps by which a process forreporting safeguards will be decided upon. Despite such reservations, the feeling inside the negotiations was one of progress on safeguards, perhaps as energies were saved for the finance discussions.

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(By , Environment Correspondent, Durban, South Africa 12:06PM GMT 11 Dec 2011)

What about the Kyoto Protocol?

The EU and a few other developed countries have signed up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, that ends in 2013. This will ensure that there is still some form of legally binding treaty to cut carbon in place in the interim eight years before the new agreement comes into force at the end of 2020. However most of the developing world and the US remain in voluntary agreements to cut carbon until 2020.

What about the money on the table?

The world has agreed to a help poor countries cope with climate change through a new Green Climate Fund that will hand out around £60bn per annum from 2020. However, again the details of the agreement are very vague. All that has been decided is that a body will be set up to distribute and manage the funds. It is not yet clear how the money will be raised. Possible plans to raise fund from a tax on shipping or aviation have not been signed off.

What about deforestation?

A scheme to pay poor countries not to chop down trees, Reducing Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation (REDD) has barely moved forward in the meeting as again countries cannot decide how to raise the cash. There are concerns that money from carbon markets could make it too corrupt and that indigenous people will be pushed out. However REDD remains on the table and will be developed over the next few years as part of the new deal alongside rules in the Kyoto Protocol to stop deforestation.

What next?

There is still a lot of work to do on the agreement. The next UNFCCC meeting in Quatar next year will start negotiations towards the 2015 deal, including the kind of targets each country will sign up to. There will also be discussion of carbon cuts for the EU and a few other countries under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The rest of the world will be pushed to increase their targets to cut carbon through voluntary agreements before 2020 through civil society and political pressure.

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Scientific American

(  | December 11, 2011)

"I think we all realize they are not perfect," said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and President of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference late on the night of December 10, referring to the proposed agreements when the outcome was still in doubt. "We should not let the perfect become the enemy of the good and the possible."

What proved possible included an extension of the Kyoto Protocol for a period of either five or seven years (excluding Canada, Japan and Russia but adding nitrogen trifluoride, used in semiconductor manufacture, to the list of gases covered—CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons), a Green Climate Fund to help low-income countries cope (albeit without any actual funds yet), an Adaptation Committee to coordinate such efforts globally, rules for a global program to reduce deforestation and how to monitor such deforestation, and a Climate Technology Center that will help launch projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol, which was set to expire at the end of 2012, set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the E.U. for reducing greenhouse gas emissions an average of five percent against 1990 levels. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which starting going into force in 2008.

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Rainforest Foundation Norway

The climate change negotiations in Durban ended with an agreement early Sunday morning. Guidance on how to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is included in the final agreement, but points in the wrong direction.

  • Durban has failed to deliver progress on fundamental issues like social and environmental safeguards, and on strict rules to ensure that global deforestation is reduced. Despite this, countries still feel it is appropriate to give a signal that carbon markets could be a suitable funding for REDD in the future. This is unfortunate for the world’s rainforests and the climate, says Lars Løvold, Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway. The final agreements in Durban include decisions on three fundamental issues for REDD+: the social, environmental and governance safeguards agreed in Cancun, how to measure if deforestation is reduced, and on financing for REDD+.
  • The safeguards are a crucial part of REDD+. They are constructed to ensure that REDD+ not only avoids doing harm, but that it delivers wider social and environmental benefits like protecting indigenous peoples’ rights and biodiversity. The Durban decision is a step backwards from what countries agreed to in Cancun, as they failed to agree on a robust reporting system for how the safeguards are being implemented, says Løvold.
    Nor did the countries agree on a framework that ensures that global deforestation is reduced. Each country can propose what level of deforestation they expect in the future, as a basis for future payments from REDD+.
  • There is no process for adding up the estimated future deforestation levels from each country, to see if they make collective sense at the global level. We risk paying for “hot air” and for “results” measured against an imaginary deforestation level that would never have happened in the real world, says Løvold.
    The last days of the negotiations saw huge battles over financing for REDD+. All parties agree that public and private financing is needed, but the big fight concerned a possible reference to the inclusion of rainforests in carbon markets. The final text says that market-based financing for REDD+ could be developed.
  • Reducing deforestation and forest degradation must be additional to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions in the North. A carbon offset market for REDD+ is the opposite, says Løvold, since the tons of carbon which are not emitted as a consequence of reduced deforestation are allowed to be emitted by the buyer in the North.
  • The lack of progress on fundamental issues to reduce deforestation makes it even worse that Durban raises expectations for future forest carbon markets. We fear that local communities may increasingly become the victims of carbon cowboys and rent seekers, without adequate mechanisms to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected, says Løvold.
  • According to Rainforest Foundation Norway, the reason for the lack of progress during the Durban negotiations is that countries are more concerned with protecting their own narrow interests than protecting rainforests and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The disappointing outcome concerning rainforest protection in Durban is the result of giving priority to selfish national interests, both among Northern and Southern countries. Several good proposals were on the table during the negotiations, but they were blocked by other countries, says Løvold.

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The Guardian

Achim Steiner, Unep executive director

The outcomes of Durban provide a welcome boost for global climate action. They reflect the growing, and in some quarters unexpected, determination of countries to act collectively. This provides a clear signal and predictability to economic planners, businesses and investors about the future of low-carbon economies. A number of specific commitments agreed in Durban also indicate that previous decisions on financing, technology and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) are moving to implementation.

The big question many will ask is how this will translate into actual emission reductions and by when? Whatever answer will emerge in the coming months, Durban has kept the door open for the world to respond to climate change based on science and common sense rather than political expediency.

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By Stephen Leahy


Even though the carbon market has crashed the private sector is considered by the U.S., EU, New Zealand, Japan and other countries to be a key partner in mobilising money for climate change. Creating private markets for the buying and selling carbon offsets remains highly controversial and very complex in terms measurement, ownership of carbon in soil or forests and more. Then there are the ethics of rich countries offsetting their own emissions by buying up forests or land in poor countries.

"Keep the targets lose the markets" Oscar Reyes of the Friends of the Earth UK urged negotiators in in the final days of COP 17. "We're worried that when the GCF has money it will lend it to the private sector to drive carbon markets," Reyes told IPS.

"Durban is a disaster" for a fair and functional Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme said experts with Ecosystems Climate Alliance, a coalition of forest NGOs. REDD is by far the biggest potential carbon market.....

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CIFOR Forest Blogs

by Michelle Kovacevic

REDD+ biggest success in climate change talks, Norway says

Norway’s Environment and International Development minister said that REDD+ is the biggest success story so far in global climate change negotiations, but he called for countries to be “more daring” in their efforts to cut emissions and slow global warming.

“The main lessons learnt are that…(reducing deforestation) can only be done realistically with governments of developing nations in the driving seat, and that payments should be results-based,” Minister Erik Solheim said on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa. “Governments are the key drivers. Private sector of course has to be involved, but without the governments, nothing will happen.”

Norway has pledged up to US$2.8 billion in bilateral and multilateral funding under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), according to a November 2011 report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Heinrich Boll Stiftung. Aside from contributing to multilateral funds such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, it has made bilateral funding commitments, most notably to Brazil, Indonesia and Guyana.

Solheim, the only minister who combines the environment and international development as his portfolio, called on developed governments to be “more able to take risks and more daring” in designing development strategies. He said he believed that the new way of doing foreign assistance was by having governments of developing countries in the driving seat and giving compensation based on results, with minimum interference on how they spend the funds.

However, this new approach has received some criticism. Guyana, for example, plans to use part of its climate funding from Norway to build a 165 megawatts hydroelectric dam, which is estimated will lead to 4,500 hectares of forest loss, prompting public outcry. Responding to this, Solheim said that the dam will allow the Latin American country to remove oil-based generators, resulting in a net emission loss. As long as it’s within the agreed parameters, “it’s for the government of Guyana to make a decision on how to spend the money,” he said.

“‘Hands off-ness’ can be good and bad,” said Smita Nakhooda, Research Fellow at ODI and co-author of the policy brief titled REDD+ Finance Delivery: Lessons from Early Experience. Lack of interference, combined with investment in developing national institutional frameworks, can support the emergence of a nationally-driven robust agenda, which is likely to deliver both social and environmental benefits, she said. “That will be more the case in some countries than in others.”

Norway has taken the lead in supporting forest protection in developing countries since 2007, when it pledged to spend up to NOK3 billion (US$500 million) per year on REDD. Financial commitments such as those provided by Norway are “critical for forest countries to mobilise and sustain political will and in-country capacity for REDD+ activities over other national priorities,” according to the ODI policy brief. The report further recommended that developed countries “commit to provide significant, sustainable financial support for faster moving forest countries.”

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REDD+ Durban: Countries agree on key issues

Going into the final days of the UN climate conference, countries have agreed on key issues on policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).

The draft decision on how to evaluate and ensure environmental and social responsibility in curbing deforestation is expected to be approved in the final hours of the conference later this week.

The results of the draft decision written by a technical working group are mixed. (I’ve assigned them letter grades below).

1) Reference Levels (Grade: A-)

Reference levels are benchmarks of measuring forest-related emissions in tons of carbon dioxide per year. A robust reference level means that we can measure whether a country is reducing emissions and maintains environmental integrity.

EDF supported a clear separation between the setting of reference levels and the political questions relating to compensation, and that’s what has been approved. The compensation discussion will be a political negotiation that depends on commitments (caps) from developed and major emitting countries.

Countries may adjust their reference levels, but they'll have to justify each adjustment individually to the satisfaction of an expert review panel. This is an important safeguard that will promote environmental integrity.

2) Safeguards (Grade: B-)

The discussions centered on the type of information that needs to be submitted, as well as how frequently and to whom the information should be reported.

This is critical because it allows us to see if REDD+ national programs are being implemented with the consent of indigenous peoples and local communities, and if their rights are being respected.

At this point, a framework for the safeguard information systems was decided, but explicit guidelines on its content were not decided upon. However, there is the opportunity for the guidelines to be strengthened next year. In addition, outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, many other groups such as the UN-REDD program, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, as well as Brazil’s national and state REDD program are making major strides in implementing such safeguard programs.

3) Monitoring, Reporting and Verification/ MRV (Grade: incomplete)

In the UNFCCC, there is an entire set of negotiations dealing with this issue. As a result, countries did not explore this issue in relation to forest-specific issues.

The decision calls for guidance from the overall MRV negotiations and for an expert meeting next year to discuss these issues in depth. Waiting for overall guidance is a prudent move and should not be seen as a negative outcome.

Financing for REDD+

In the coming days, countries will be focusing on how to finance REDD+ activities. The discussions on REDD+ finance, taking place in the negotiations on “Long-term Cooperative Action,” (LCA) began last week but made little progress, due to the focus on the technical issues.

Although the Cancun agreements tasked the LCA with “exploring” all financing sources — including markets –the current negotiating text simply calls for more exploration in the form of a technical paper and a workshop.  This is disappointing and many countries agreed that we can be more ambitious and this conference needs to put its seal of approval on the use of all financing sources.

The EDF team is making the case that in order for REDD+ programs to be created and sustained over many years, the UNFCCC needs to recognize that all sources of financing should be used to pay for REDD+. Public funding will never be enough and the gap in financing will have to be made up by the private sector. Stay tuned to see what happens!

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Rainforest Partnership

Durban, 12/4: Forest Day 5 and REDD+ updates

Forest Day is one of my favorite events during the COP.  Not only are the panels very informative and solutions-oriented, but it is an excellent time to connect with other people in the sustainable development and forest conservation fields.  Realistic situations at the country and project level are discussed at Forest Day making it a welcome relief from the sometimes elusiveness of the COP negotiations.   The conference is also a good time to learn about progress in negotiations around REDD+.   It takes place on the one day negotiators take a break during the 11 day COP and its primary focus is to serve as a platform for entities interested in or taking part in forest protection and regeneration efforts to come together to share experiences and knowledge and connect with each other.

Some of the main takeaways from Forest Day:

The theme of Forest Day 5 was “From Policy to Practice” which was very much aligned with the condolences paid to Nobel Peace Prize winner and forest conservation advocate, Wangari Maathai (- 2011).  Dr. Maathai, founder of the Greenbelt Movement, was able to work at the UN level shaping policy and at the community level, empowering women to improve their health, develop sustainably and protect their environment.

The updates on the state of the worlds forests and reducing deforestation (with an emphasis on REDD+)  came from some of the most heavily rainforested countries in the world, with the highest rates of deforestation and included both Brazil and Indonesia.

  • Brazil has been able to decrease deforestation from 2007-2010 in spite of rising cattle and soy prices, due to the government’s increased enforcement of environmental laws.  The question now is how to continue this sort of trend into the future.   Some of the issues that must be addressed now, according to Paolo Barreto of IMAZON, include working with small landholders to reduce deforestation (potentially where REDD financing can help), remove agricultural subsidies that encourage deforestation and increase productivity of degraded land (there is an estimated 11milllion hectares of deserted pasture land in Brazil).
  • Mr Barreto also emphasized that we must look at the full risks of deforestation, outside of the forest sector:  infrastructure and subsidies for agriculture.
  • In Indonesia 30% of GDP comes from use of forests.  The agriculture and mining industries are the cause of much of the deforestation and there are increasing foreign investments in both these areas.  Electric generation in Indonesia is 80% coal which is found in the country’s forests.  At the same time Indonesia has made a commitment to a 26% reduction of GHGs by 2020 and is committed to designing a national strategy for REDD+.  To start, there has been a national level suspension of the conversion of peatland for 2 years. The destruction of peatland is one of the primary reasons Indonesia is in the top four when it comes to countries with the highest carbon emissions.  When peat is burned it releases an immense amount of stored carbon and can burn for weeks, months, even years!
  • One potential deforestation driver mentioned by both Indonesia and Brazil was the fact that both countries are biofuel producers and will most likely increase the production of biofuels in the future meaning that competition for land could increase.

REDD+ Negotiations Update – Tony La Vina, Chair of the REDD Working Group gave an update on the progress of the REDD + negotiations.  Another draft text has been produced that includes decisions on REDD+ safeguards and monitoring and reporting but has left REDD+ financing to be decided on in 2012.  Note: According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the requirements for safeguards are “watered down” and would leave indigenous groups vulnerable.  More information about the current REDD+ text can be found on CIFOR’s blog.  La Vina mentioned that the point of the text was to move from politics to implementation of REDD+ so that experience is gained in the field so that safeguard details can be determined based on experience from implementation.

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Durban talks both good and bad for REDD+, says expert

The biggest challenge going forward with REDD+ is still going to be finance, said Verchot.

“Until we have some sort of clarity about how money is going to flow and the size of emission reductions we expect to achieve with that, it is going to be very difficult to move into full-scale implementation of REDD+. There are a few countries that are already ready to move forward into phase three of REDD+ implementation, so we really need to get the ball rolling on this issue.”

Looking ahead, Tony La Vina, who facilitates REDD+ negotiations within the COP, is optimistic: “We now have a decision on safeguards and a decision on MRV … pretty good decisions I think, obviously not perfect, that will move us forward to implementation of REDD at the national level which is really what this is all about.”

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WWF - Panda

UN forest protection scheme heading in wrong direction

“The outcome on REDD safeguards is a step backwards from what was agreed in Cancun last year, which itself was far short of what could have been agreed in Copenhagen. The provisions for safeguards in forest conservation are being shredded”, says Raja Jarrah, CARE’s Senior Advisor on REDD.

"This is bad news for millions of indigenous people and local communities whose livelihoods depend on forests.”

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Hope after Durban

Manila Standard Today, Tony La Viña, REDD+ facilitator, Tuesday,  December 13, 2011

The LCA agreement is actually good – not perfect, still incomplete but much better than expected. Dan Reifsnyder of the United States did a great job as Chair; after a stormy start in Bangkok in April, he managed to run a fair, open and transparent process. As expected, adaptation and technology transfer advanced while some issues like long term finance and the agricultural program still needs work.

As part of the LCA agreement, governments moved forward on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (or REDD-plus) with an agreement that is good for people, forests and climate. In the REDD-plus negotiations I facilitated, we actually achieved the maximum common denominator in agreeing to consider market and non-market approaches to pay for REDD-plus activities. The agreement mainstreams environmental, social and governance safeguards in the area where it matters most – finance. Co-benefits to poverty alleviation, biodiversity, ecosystem services and resilience, indigenous peoples and adaptation would be guaranteed. In the Philippine delegation, I am grateful to Vicky Tauli-Corpus (who also chaired, successfully as well, the technical negotiations on REDD-plus conducted in the first week of Durban), Lawrence Ang, Lea Labre, Stephanie Roe, Aya de Leon and Emett de Guzman who worked with me in the REDD-plus negotiations.

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Durban leaves big REDD+ questions hanging

International Forest Carbon Association

The consensus from observers is that good progress has been made on the questions of reference levels and MRV standards. However, good work towards appropriate safeguards has been undermined with weak agreement on reporting safeguards performance, whilst the major issue of how to enable the enormous financing requirement to protect forests was squibbed and effectively set back another year.

Meanwhile, the overarching global climate agreement that is needed to create the demand at scale for REDD+ assets is looking healthier now that the principle of a new comprehensive agreement has won the support of the big emitters US, China and India. Ultimately, however, the scope for emissions reduction from preserving and restoring forests within the overall global mitigation effort depends on delivering such a treaty, scheduled to be finalized by 2015 and take effect in 2020. This would deliver firm reduction targets for countries and the role for REDD+ credits in meeting those targets.

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REDD+ finance, indigenous rights protections move forward in 2012 with boost from Durban negotiations

EDF talks global cliamte

REDD+ policies got a major boost in Durban when countries agreed that all sources of funding, including carbon markets, are eligible to pay for REDD+ activities. After years of exploring how to pay for all three stages of REDD+ (capacity building, early implementation and national-level pay-for-performance), the UN has put its seal of approval on the use of markets. Estimates indicate that while public financing is needed, especially for the capacity building stage, only large-scale, sustainable funding from carbon markets will generate sufficient funding. EDF applauds this decision.

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The Durban results in BRIEF


Blog | by Dr. Radut