Quick Stop on Cancun COP: December 9

Kate Hamilton, Steve Zwick, David Diaz, and Molly Peters-Stanley

Updated on Thursday, December 9.  Keep up with the latest developments in land use, land-use change, forestry, REDD, and agroforestry on the Eko-Eco blog.

The Cancun climate talks might not be the kind that yield game-changing major agreements, but they are certainly generating their share of incremental deals — the kind that accumulate slowly under the radar before bursting into the light of public awareness, seemingly overnight.   In an effort to keep you informed of these developments, we’ll be posting daily updates on the Eko-Eco blog.

 9 December 2010 | CANCUN | The latest updates from Cancun, as posted on the Eko-Eco blog.   Jump to specific days using the links below, or scroll to the bottom for the most recent updates.

Jump to specific days
Nov: 29, 30
Dec:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Setting the Stage

LULUCF: Key issues for Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) are accounting in developed (Annex 1) countries and the future of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) post 2012. Negotiators are focused on if and how emissions from forest management will be accounted for by developed countries. Both issues are being hashing out in the AdHoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP15).

REDD+: Potential agreements on REDD+ are a beam of hope in an otherwise dreary forecast. Components relevant to REDD+ wind throughout several negotiation streams as well as Interim REDD+ Partnership discussions. How REDD+ could fit into country emission reduction commitments, equitable distribution of funds, the use of market mechanisms and the development of appropriate funds are in motion under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG LCA). AWG-LCA Chair Margaret Mukahanana- Sangarwe identified REDD+, along with adaptation agriculture and technology as issues as areas where consensus could be reached at COP 16.

NAMAs: Nationallly  Appropriate Mitigation Actions.   Negotiators, primarily through the AWG-LCA will be setting the terms for what developing countries may be invited or expected to do in their contribution to the fight against climate change.   Major focal points will be scope and vehicles for financing NAMAs, whether such activities are voluntary or binding, and what types of monitoring, reporting, and verification will be agreed upon.

The Grab Bag: Other key news from Cancun around ecosystems, water, adapatation and biodiversity even making forest carbon fanatics heads turn.

The Warm Up, Days 1-3: November 29-December 1

LULUCF: Negotiators are wrapping up their third day of closed-door conversations designed to forge consensus on how developed countries account for emissions from land use, land-use change, and forestry. Developed countries continue to demand flexible baselines. They also want to be able to pick and choose which activities they account for and which they do not. A step towards compromise is the development of a neutral scientific review team with authority to review proposed LULUCF baselines, which could establish compromise. Countries are currently working on shared definitions and understanding of issues under the proposal.

REDD +:Currently it appears most countries are willing to accept the proposed AWG-LCA text, with the loudest current dissenters Saudi Arabia and Bolivia. Saudi Arabia has sited concerns that the non- binding goals set in the text are set up in a way to become binding. Bolivia is continues to take a stance adamantly against utilizing market mechanisms to distribute funds. A likely solution is to punt discussions on funding mechanisms to next year at COP 17.

The REDD+ Partners posted their 2010 Work Plan, which lays out the agenda for 2011 and 2012.

The Grab Bag: Adaptation is another burning topic under COP16. In particular, we’re keeping an eye on Ecosystem Based Adaptation, the use of natural systems as a way to buffer vulnerable communities from worst impacts of climate change, which is firmly established in the AWG- LCA track text. Check out here.

Day 4: Thursday, December 2

LULUCF: A new LULUCF negotiating text is expected on Friday, and everyone is curious to see how the issue of baselines is being dealt with. Specifically, countries like Australia, which have experienced sustained drought and thus face higher emissions, and Russia, which will see its emissions rise as permafrost melts through no fault of their own, may be permitted to adjust baselines over time. The question is still how.

One proposal essentially gives developed countries carte blance on the establishment of baselines, and another imposes 1990 baselines. Most observers we spoke to expect something in the middle.

The most troubling issue remains the fact that developed countries can still use activities-based accounting instead of land-based accounting — essentially deciding which activities they account for and which they ignore, rather than accounting for emissions from the total landscape. They still claim it’s simply impossible to implement land-based accounting before 2018, but several NGOs and developing countries see things differently. The so-called “logging loophole” has been getting a lot of press lately, and here’s a good piece we stumbled upon.

We’ll be exploring this in more detail and posting them to Ecosystem Marketplace as details emerge, but for now you can check out our coverage from over a year ago, a troubling amount of which remains relevant today.

NAMAS: In the formal negotiations, IISD reports that in last night’s closed meeting of the AWG-LCA drafting group on mitigation that negotiators made some progress on how NAMAs could be measured, reported and verified. One option considered the use of existing Kyoto Protocol rules, and the development of a registry to host an inventory of NAMAs around the world.

A new guidebook has been released dealing with developing Programmes of Activities (PoAs) under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. PoAs allow for several separate project activities undertaken using the CDM methodologies to be aggregated into a larger PoA that allows for streamlined documentation and verification. South Pole Carbon Asset Management, who led the writing of the book, says PoA’s are the next step for the evolution of the CDM, and point the way towards the ultimate integration of NAMAs into emissions reduction accounting schemes.

REDD+: AWG-LCA Negotiations continue in informal groups behind closed doors, including discussions on REDD+. A new draft text is expected to emerge on Saturday, with working groups choosing between the Tianjin text, or the Chair’s negotiating text with additional options prepared for Cancun.

The REDD+ Partnership has released its working plan for 2011-2012, and is available with additional backgrond provided by Ecosystem Marketplace.

Grab bag: Google announced the launch of a new environmental monitoring platform, the Google Earth Engine, that has already been applied to demonstrate rapid mapping of forest change around the world, including the development of a forest cover map for all of Mexico over the course of 2 days. Leveraging free access to the past 25 years worth of Landsat satellite imagery, the new platform was unveiled this morning along with a pledge from Google to offer 10 million CPU hours to developing countries in support of REDD+ Readiness activities, in particular likely to involve the development of forest monitoring capacity and national and subnational baseline formulation.

Day 5: Friday, December 3

LULUCF: On Friday a “non- paper” was released with two different options for dealing with baseline accounting in Annex 1 countries. According the ISSD, parties also hashed out the definition of wetlands with some preferring a more narrow definition. A new text is predicted to be released on Saturday.

REDD+:Negotiators under the Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) met to discuss REDD+ provisions this afternoon for two hours. Inside reports suggest the talks are still on track to produce a REDD+ mechanism by the end of the Climate Conference. A consensus emerged within the brief meeting to utilize the “Chair’s Text” for continuing negotiations, abandoning for the most part the revisions introduced in the original “Negotiating Text” prepared coming into this meeting.

This choice reflects a move away from the proposals added by Bolivia and Saudi Arabia from the last AWG-LCA meeting in Tianjin. Saudi Arabia has generally opposed the creation of a new mechanism for REDD, and Bolivia has insisted that no offsets be generated from REDD activities and that carbon markets also not be an eligible source for REDD funding. In addition, Bolivia continues to assert a strong voice for affirming the rights of indigenous peoples under any REDD mechanism. A new revision of the AWG-LCA text is expected to emerge Saturday morning (Dec 4, 2010).

For more information check out: REDD Negotiations Still on Track for Decision in Cancun

The Grab Bag: REDD+ enthusiasts gathered at an off- site event, Amazon Evening, hosted by Fundaçí£o Amazonas Sustentí¡vel. The goal of the evening was to focus on REDD as a tool for conserving the Amazon and more specifically bottlenecks in public financing and market-based funding mechanisms or forest conservation. Highlights included the launch of the Surui Fund.

Day 6: Saturday, December 4

LULUCF: LULUCF co-facilitators Marcelo Rocha (Brazil) and Peter Iverson (Denmark) spent the week overseeing informal, closed talks with parties and came up with a non-paper on Saturday that was deemed too full of options to be passed on to high-level negotiators. Rocha and Iverson will spend a good chunk of time on Monday with AWG-KP chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), and it will be up to Ashe to deliver a text on Tuesday that’s clean enough for high-level negotiators.LULUCF co-facilitators Marcelo Rocha (Brazil) and Peter Iverson (Denmark) spent the week overseeing informal, closed talks with parties and came up with a non-paper on Saturday that was deemed too full of options to be passed on to high-level negotiators. Rocha and Iverson will spend a good chunk of time on Monday with AWG-KP chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), and it will be up to Ashe to deliver a text on Tuesday that’s clean enough for high-level negotiators.

REDD+: On Saturday afternoon, the latest edition of text for negotiations under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was released, including modest modifications from earlier versions to the REDD+ sections, including additional options regarding whether monitoring of safeguards might be voluntary and the role of markets as a source of financing. Stay tuned for additional analysis into the significance of changes, and the eventual outcomes from the AWG-LCA and any decisions that now seem more likely to be presented to the Conference of the Parties.

The REDD+ Partnership’s feedback period on its 2011-2012 Work Program closes Sunday at 8pm. Considering the substantial amount of cutting of safeguard text from earlier drafts, it remains to be seen whether any of the Parties to the Partnership will object. If no Partners object by 8pm, the Work Program will proceed as written.

NAMAS: Well, frankly, we’ ve asked round & round and no one knows the latest on progress on NAMAS yesterday. More to come.

Day 7: Sunday, December 5

LULUCF: There were no formal meetings, but plenty of closed talks among facilitators to try and deliver a comprehensible text for Monday’s deliberations, which are aimed at passing a clean text on to the ministerial meeting.

REDD+: The Co-Chairs of the REDD+ Partnership were expected to release the final draft 2011-2012 Work Program on Sunday. Additional investigation by Ecosystem Marketplace confirmed that the major cuts we reported to the earlier draft’s safeguard text were implemented not by the Secretariat, but instead by one or both of the Co-Chairs themselves. Stay tuned for additional analysis of the final draft Work Program.

Grab Bag: Mexico’s President Calderon opened Forest Day with an impassioned speech on his personal connection and dedication to the trees. Many attendees were inspired… others were more cynical.

Day 8: Monday, December 6

LULUCF: AWG- KP discussions on LULUCF centered around process and continued debate on around accounting issues. Tuvalu sparked a commotion by holding up negotiations on LULUCF baselines because they claim developed countries are continuing to insert loopholes that will enable them to exclude massive emissions from changes in land use.

REDD+: After a week of haggling over an initial version of the proposed text and consensus over the weekend, yesterday was the first official day of ministerial level negotiations on REDD+. Despite setbacks, the text is relatively complete and stakeholders remain optimistic that the week could end with a REDD+ agreement. According to EDF, four key issues will be worked out this week: setting a goal for REDD, whether accounting should happen at the national or regional level, if social and environmental safeguards will be mandatory or voluntary, and means of funding REDD.

Grab Bag: The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) picked up the pace on their set of side events hosted at the Westin. A significant proportion of attendees at the Westin came exclusively for this alternative set of events.

Day 9:  Tuesday, December 7

LULUCF: Negotiators accepted saturday’s non-paper as a basis for discussions, and began to discuss and clarify text without major movements with the exception of agreement on issues related to harvested wood products. Some stakeholders say an agreement is still possible in Cancun on LULUCF, others doubt if consensus can be reached by Friday.

REDD+: The final draft of the Partnership’s 2011-2012 Work Program was finally released Tuesday (delayed from scheduled release Monday at 8pm). A review of the latest Work Program reveals that the significant cuts to safeguard language persist. In a confusing twist, the text from the 2010 Work Program, which was already approved during the Partnership’s last meeting in Nagoya, Japan has now been interspersed throughout the 2011-2012 final draft, ballooning the size of the document from its earlier 10-page version up to 25-pages. Partners, several of whom reported to Ecosystem Marketplace that they had not had time to review the drafts, will now have until Wednesday 8pm to voice an objection to the Work Program via e-mail, otherwise it will be approved as currently written.

NAMAs: On Tuesday morning, parties focused on two draft texts related to developed and developing country mitigation, formally and through informal consultations throughout the day. Parties noted the need to reconcile the texts not only with each other but also with other texts coming out of the LCA track. Parties grappled with several issues – should NAMAs for each country be detailed as an annex to a decision Cancun (if indeed there is one)? Should they be written as hard actions or commitments? Can a framework be devised for comparing these commitments/actions? Despite these questions, some parties expressed optimism about the emergence of decision text in this track and its readiness to enter full negotiations mode.

Grab Bag: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also unveiled the United States government’s REDD+ Strategy at a side-event in Cancun Tuesday afternoon. You can view the Strategy posted on the USAID website here (PDF).

Day 10: Wednesday, December 8

LULUCF: Talks continued to go sideways and wrapped up with five different proposals for forest management on the table at a time when options are supposed to be reducing – not proliferating. Several developing nations accused Australia of bullying Tuvalu in an effort to encourage it to abandon its blockage of the so-called “logging loophole,” which permits developed countries to opt out of counting certain activities in their land-use emissions. Parties continued in their informal discussions around agriculture in the evening after discussing whether or not agriculture should be discussed alongside bunker fuels and other topics.

REDD+: UNFCCC negotiations reached an impasse on the same issue of stakeholder participation that has continued to plague the REDD+ Partnership. Brazil wants less outside control over its activities than developed countries want to impose. Several developing countries support Brazil’s stance, arguing that stakeholder participation is a euphemism for rich-country intervention. Regarding the REDD+ Partnership, several stakeholders say they gave the most recent work plan “conditional approval” and called for a new meeting early next year. No official word yet on the status of the workplan.

GRAB BAG: While negotiators engaged in informal discussions around agriculture (including whether or not to continue debating agriculture issues alongside bunker fuels), the Voluntary Carbon Standard announced it would pursue development of new jurisdictional accounting frameworks for REDD projects that could eventually inform processes around NAMAs.



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