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On The Road To Paris. Next Stop: Bonn, June 2015

Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez

Mid-year climate talks begin this week in Bonn, Germany – a critical but largely overlooked pit-stop on the way to year-end talks in Paris. Gustavo Silva-Chavez of Forest Trends points out that land-use issues still account for 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and will play a central role in whatever solution emerges in Paris.

Mid-year climate talks begin this week in Bonn, Germany – a critical but largely overlooked pit-stop on the way to year-end talks in Paris. Gustavo Silva-Chavez of Forest Trends points out that land-use issues still account for 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and will play a central role in whatever solution emerges in Paris.

 

1 June 2015 | Visas have been secured, travel arrangements have been made, and the international climate policy community including the Forest Trends COP team, is arriving in Germany for the latest round of UN climate change meetings. They will take place 1-11 June in Bonn, Germany and there is added urgency to make significant progress and set the stage for a successful global deal in Paris later this year. Normally, the June UN sessions focus on scientific and technical issues but this year, additional meetings specifically on the draft overall global deal have been added to the agenda.

Starting at last year’s UN meeting in Lima (or COP which stands for Conference of the Parties), countries started to add their preferred options on some of the key issues, including the overall temperature goal, the legal framework, transparency issues, mitigation, finance and REDD+. As a result, when 196 countries start adding their options, we now have a bloated text that has every option possible. Comprehensive? Yes. Ready for an actual negotiation? No.

Why does Bonn Matter?

The negotiations for an overall comprehensive agreement will take place under the current version of the negotiation text that is currently almost 100 pages. The more difficult process of elimination, where specific options are deleted, will wait until the text is shortened and more manageable. It is hard to say what success looks like. 60 pages? 50 pages? There is no exact page number that Forest Trends can point to as a successful outcome but progress has to be made. Otherwise, we will not have time to get down to something that can be negotiated by Ministers and Heads of State in Paris.

Other Issues on the Agenda

REDD+ in SBSTA–Every year, the June negotiations in Bonn focus primarily on scientific and technical issues. These take place under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, or SBSTA for short. This is the agenda:

  1. Whether there is a need for further guidance on issues relating to safeguards
  2. Developing methodological guidance on non-market-based approaches
  3. Methodological issues related to non-carbon benefits
Forest Trends believes that the current guidance on safeguards is sufficient for now and that countries must implement and respect these safeguards. Countries should think of the UN safeguards as a “floor” and should aim to strengthen them over time with technical assistance and financing, if needed. We also think that countries are free to decide if they want to access carbon markets or not, but that efforts to dismiss carbon markets are not helpful. Forest Trends has been tracking REDD+ finance flows in 14 countries as part of our REDDX project, and our findings clearly indicate that current financing of REDD+, which is primarily from donor countries and not carbon markets, is insufficient to reduce global deforestation at the scale needed to avoid dangerous climate change. And finally, non-carbon benefits can mean a lot of things but a lack of agreement should not prevent REDD+ from going forward and be a fundamental pillar of mitigation in the Paris agreement.

Land use–The agreement at COP 21 in Paris needs to address all sources of emissions. Although most people think of climate change as a fossil fuel problem, agriculture, forestry, land use change, and other land uses, (the “land sector”), account for about 24% of global greenhouse gas emission. This sector must be part of the Paris agreement and together with NGO partners, Forest Trends will be working to make sure that land use is included in the text out of Bonn.

Forest Trends on the ground

Forest Trends staff will be on the ground covering these meetings, with a focus on the ADP negotiations, as well as mitigation, finance, land use and REDD+ issues. Stay tuned for further updates and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Gustavo Silva-Chavez is the Program Manager of Forest Trends’ Forest Trade and Finance program. He can be reached at gsilva@forest-trends.org.

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