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Bonn Talks Close With Clarity on Land Use

Steve Zwick

The Bonn climate talks haven’t achieved the kind of progress that generates headlines, but they have come up with an extremely clear summary of all proposals related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) as well as movement towards a consensus on how to account for other land-use issues. Unfortunately, that consensus will probably not be achieved in time for the next commitment period.

14 August 2009 | The Bonn climate talks haven’t achieved the kind of progress that generates headlines, but they have come up with an extremely clear summary of all proposals related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) as well as movement towards a consensus on how to account for other land-use issues. Unfortunately, that consensus will probably not be achieved in time for the next commitment period. On REDD, group Facilitator Tony La Vina managed to put out an incredibly clear non-paper containing all of the conflicting views currently on the table. The text not only contains all of the various proposals, but also tells you which proposals came from which countries. The decision to include that attribution represents a reversal from June, when delegates decided to keep attribution secret in order to prevent hostile nations from blocking proposals based simply on who submitted them. On the larger issue of land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), delegates agreed that, long-term, accounting of land-use emissions should be done on a land basis (which measures the total emissions and sinks on a given area of land) instead of an activity basis (which measures only emissions and sinks from certain land-use activities) because land-based accounting more accurately reflects the land’s true impact on the environment. Many developed nation delegates, however, argued that they could not achieve accurate accounting by 2013 – a contention that was itself contested by delegates from poorer countries, who say that developed countries have been accounting for land-use emissions on a land basis since 2005 (we will be writing up more details on this over the weekend). On Friday, LULUCF contact group co-chairs Marcelo Rocha and Bryan Smith asked developed-nation delegates to assemble all available data on emissions from land use in an effort to see what can and cannot be measured. Be sure to check in over the weekend for a more detailed treatment of these issues.

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