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REDD, CDM Likely To Find A Place In New Climate Agreement: Figueres
Author: Gloria Gonzalez

The REDD Rulebook

The “Rulebook” is actually a collection of seven decisions that together provide guidance on how countries can harvest available data to create reliable snapshots of their forests over time and to use these snapshots to create deforestation reference levels that will be recognized by the UNFCCC.

The decisions govern, among other things, modalities for monitoring national forests, addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and measuring, reporting and verifying activities designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s still, however, not clear what sort of payoffs that data will yield long-term, and for that there’s a work program for developing results-based finance in support of REDD and a new set of arrangements between the COP and the Green Climate Fund. The decisions also include a mechanism for helping developing countries deal with loss and damage from climate change.

The final decision reached is the one covering institutional arrangements for REDD finance moving forward.

COP 19 Coverage

We covered the COP from beginning to end, with a narrow focus on REDD and those issues still under discussion. Here is the bulk of our coverage, with a few breaking stories omitted.

Demand For Forest Carbon Offsets Rises As Forestland Under Carbon Management Grows
sets the stage for Warsaw with a deep dive into the state of forest carbon markets around the world.

REDD, CDM Likely To Find A Place In New Climate Agreement
: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres offers hope that the troubled CDM market and REDD projects will be included in the international climate deal expected to be finalized in 2015.  

Understanding Carbon Accounting Under The UN Framework Convention is a work in progress designed to explain in simple terms the complexity of carbon accounting under the emerging “REDD Rulebook”.

Indigenous Leaders Stand Up For Active Role In REDD
relates what indigenous leaders expect from forest-carbon finance

REDD Reference Levels Share Stage With Broader Land-Use Issues In Warsaw
outlines the issues on the table at the beginning of the talks.

In Warsaw As In California, Forest Carbon Carrot Needs Compliance Stick
 explores the need for compliance drivers to boost demand for forest carbon offsets. 

Forest, Ag Projects Can Combine Adaptation And Mitigation: CIFOR Study highlights the missed opportunities to link multiple benefits in projects that aim to tackle the impacts of climate change.  

Dutch Platform Turns Landscapes Talk Into REDD Reality examines a new platform unveiled in Warsaw that could serve as a model for future public-private partnerships for financing REDD+ projects. 

The REDD Finance Roundtable: A Quick Chat With EDF, WWF, and UCS
takes stock of the talks on the eve of the final REDD agreement.

For REDD Proponents, No Regrets
 examines the early success of REDD pilot projects despite sluggish progress made in securing policy and financial support at the national and international levels. 

US, UK, Norway Launch Next-Stage REDD Finance Mechanism Under World Bank
examines a financing mechanism designed to support performance-based payments down the road.

After the talks, we began digging into the decisions and themes of the two-week talk, and will be rolling these stories out as they take shape.

Unpacking Warsaw, Part One: The Institutional Arrangements explores the last-minute deal that lays rules for governing REDD finance through 2015.

Unpacking Warsaw, Part Two: Recognizing The Landscape Reality explores the thinking behind the growing emphasis on “landscape thinking” in climate finance.

Unpacking Warsaw, Part Three: COP Veterans Ask, ‘Where’s The Beef?’ explores the reaction of carbon traders to the Warsaw outcomes and offers a peek into the year ahead.

Further stories in this series will explore the impact of individual decisions within the rulebook, the role that the rulebook can play in helping existing projects nest in jurisdictional programs, and the impact of the rulebook on the private sector.

Few things are certain regarding the international climate negotiations taking place in Warsaw this week. But UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres sees a role for both the beleaguered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects, assuming REDD projects can overcome their financing challenges.

15 November 2013 | WARSAW | Despite the challenges in the Clean Development Mechanism and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), both mechanisms are likely to find a place in the international climate agreement expected to be reached in 2015, said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

The future of REDD+ has been a major topic of discussion and debate at the international climate talks in Warsaw this week as developed and developing countries strive to reach enough common ground on issues such as reference levels and monitoring, reporting and verification to allow billions of dollars to be directed toward these projects. 

In a question-and-answer session hosted by Dirk Forrister of the International Emissions Trading Association, Figueres said she is optimistic that REDD+ can serve as a mechanism in the climate agreement being negotiated. “I think there’s a good chance of it being included and it’s moving in that direction,” she said. However, the challenge for REDD relates to funding. “That’s a much more difficult question.”

Figueres also sees a future for the CDM, as African countries remain interested in an agreement that will preserve and strengthen the struggling market, something that was the major topic of conversation at the Africa Carbon Forum in July. South Africa is leading the call to reform the CDM and ensure its place in a future climate agreement.

“As you heard from the Africans, I think there is a true legitimate interest in building up the CDM because there are many countries that felt left out and still feel left out and that feel more comfort with mechanism that is more broadly known, for which the rules are there,” Figueres said. “It’s just a more comforting space to move into.”

Even moving into a broader scope for new market mechanisms, there will still be room for the CDM, both for individual projects and for Programme of Activities, she said.

“I’m the first one to admit that we’re in a valley of the CDM,” Figueres continued. “But I don’t believe the EU is always going to be the only source of demand and my sense is that as we move into the 2015 agreement, it’s going to be evident that we need different types of supply into a market that is going to have to be much larger than the market we have right now. I think it definitely has a role in the 2015 agreement. How much of it is going to be transacted before the 2015 agreement goes into force really depends on what the demand is going to be. It’s much more of an issue of demand than it is of supply.”

Figueres cited three exciting market developments from the past year, including her home country Costa Rica launching a domestic carbon market in September. “It’s about showing yet again that no matter how small you are and how clean you are, that you can still make an effort toward reducing your emissions even more and that market mechanisms are a really good way to do that,” she said.

On a much larger scale, China’s launching of its pilot carbon trading programs was another key highlight, she said. It was interesting to see the country motivated by a confluence of factors, including global health and the realization that this action was necessary to maintain its competitiveness in the world, Figueres said. “All of those national agendas playing into and serving a global purpose is actually very exciting,” she said.

The International Civil Aviation Organization finally finding some common ground in an effort to address emissions from the aviation sector was another critical development, she said.

“They had such a torturous time trying to figure out how, in a concept that is not under United Nations rules and principles and the framework convention for climate change, do they then account for emissions in their context,” Figueres said. “They weren’t able to get an agreement on that, but they were able to get an agreement on moving forward with their market mechanisms. That’s also very good news and something we look forward to working with them on.”

But markets are only one key, fortunately not the only mechanism to addressing the climate challenge, she said.

“I do think we have to begin to see markets as one financial instrument and not the only one,” Figueres said. “It’s very clear the markets will never be able to mobilize the kind of investment that we need to mobilize into mitigation. I see the market as one of the elements we are going to have to combine into a financial architecture that is going to be able to leverage mitigation.”  

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Gloria Gonzalez is the Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace's Carbon Program. She can be reached at

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