REDD Is In The New Climate Text, But Will It Be An INDC?

Steve Zwick

The negotiating text that emerged from climate talks in Geneva includes six options for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) – or, pretty much every option currently floating around the halls. But as countries prepare their Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs), it’s not clear that REDD will be recognized as such.

17 February 2015 | Climate-change negotiators meeting in Geneva last week agreed on a draft negotiating text, but it was a massive thing – more than 80 pages – full of options and “bracketed” text that will mostly be chipped away between now and the time negotiators meet in Paris.

Work and negotiations on the text will continue at the Climate Change Conference in Bonn in June and at two further formal sessions later in the year in Bonn (31 August to 4 September and 19 to 23 October).

For the month of March, the focus will be within countries, as they submit their Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but it’s unclear whether international payments for REDD will be recognized as an INDC, setting the stage for a chaotic few months where proposed INDCs are contingent on text still under negotiation.

“There remain deep and long-standing divisions on key issues – among them, which countries are more obligated than others to take action to reduce emissions; how and by how much to ramp up climate finance; and how to give greater priority to action on adaptation and loss and damage,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “These divisions nearly derailed the negotiations last December in Lima; they must be addressed in an open and constructive manner if we are to get the ambitious and comprehensive agreement we need in Paris.”

REDD in the Text

“REDD is going to be a pillar of mitigation,” said Gus Silva-Chavez, who runs the Forest Trends REDDX Initiative. “REDD is in there in multiple places as multiple options. There’s a lot of support for it.”

But Paragraph 23 of the text, which deals most explicitly with land-use issues, has a total of six options – a victim of the proposal proliferation that took hold at talks in Geneva as countries took full advantage of their last chance to put options on the table.

“There’s one option which would be REDD is a voluntary mechanism, and countries will get paid for that, but any REDD reductions will not be able to be used to meet anyone’s compliance obligations,” said Silva-Chavez. “There is another option that is clearly the REDD mechanism will work as a developed country will be able to use REDD credits for compliance and markets will be allowed.”

Of the six options, he says, Option 2 is the strongest.

“If that ends up being the mechanism that they establish, then you have an incentive for the private sector and large emitting companies to invest in REDD, and/or for REDD countries to keep doing REDD,” he says. “But if we have something that says REDD shall not be used for meeting compliance obligations, then we’re back where we were ten years ago, and that hasn’t worked.”

Option 4 is Brazil’s approach, and Option 6 is Bolivia’s non-market approach.

“I were to predict what is going to happen on REDD this year, the final negotiation in Paris is going to come down to REDD will be a market mechanism,” he says. “It’s just going to be how much of an INDC can you meet from REDD. That’s going to be the REDD deal between REDD countries and everybody else.”

Here is the full text of Paragraph 23:

Paragraph 23

[Option 1: In meeting their commitments [/ contributions / actions] , Parties may make use of market mechanisms [and actions][, including] [in the land-use sector] in accordance with [X] [the provisions on transparency of action and support as contained in section J, in particular in order to ensure environmental integrity and avoid double counting][accounting rules developed by the governing body] [in accordance with rules and provisions adopted by the governing body of this Protocol in order to ensure environmental integrity] [by ensuring that:

  • Transfers of mitigation outcomes or units between Parties can be used to meet their contributions/commitments/actions under the new agreement
  • Units emanating from UNFCCC-approved mechanisms, including REDD-plus mechanisms will be transferrable and can be used to meet contributions/commitments/actions of Parties under the new agreement
  • Mitigation outcomes and units emanating from mechanisms outside the UNFCCC can be used to meet contributions/commitments/actions of Parties under the new agreement provided that they meet conformity requirements established by the COP].
  1. [The use of market mechanisms is to:

    a.Mobilize the widest range of potential investments for [adaptation and] mitigation;

    b. Create incentives for early action;

    c. Incentivize and coordinate effective mitigation [and adaptation] actions [including those with co-benefits in adaptation] from the broadest range of actors, including the private sector, to support the implementation of this agreement;

    d. Ensure consistency with individual commitments / contributions;

    e. [Be in accordance with the provisions on transparent accounting as contained in section J (Transparency of action and support), in particular to avoid double counting.]]

    f. [Contribute to the sustainable development of the host country]

    g. [Generate resources through a levy to enhance climate-resilient investment in developing countries] h. [Supplement domestic action].

23.2 [The use of market mechanisms shall be supplementary to domestic action] [and a cap will apply to ensure that mitigation commitments are the main domestic actions] [Domestic action shall account for the majority of the emission reductions required to fulfil each Party’s commitment.]

23.3 [A centrally governed market mechanism shall be created under the Convention that builds on the existing market mechanisms.].

23.4 [The governing body of this Protocol shall ensure that a share of the proceeds from the use of market mechanisms is used to assist developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to climate change to meet the costs of adaptation.]

23.5 [The use of actions in the land-use sector is to:

a. Accommodate national circumstances and proper incentives so as to facilitate actions and stakeholder cooperation;

b. Encourage to build on existing accounting approaches, methodologies, guidance and guidelines for anthropogenic emissions and removals, where available.]

23.6 [The governing body shall develop accounting rules for the use of market mechanisms and the land-use sector with regard to mitigation contributions of all Parties, including how to avoid double counting.]

Option 2:

23. [Parties may claim mitigation outcomes achieved in other Parties towards their commitment subject to specific rules and requirements designed to ensure that the environmental integrity and the integrity of commitments are maintained and that double counting is avoided.

23.1 The UNFCCC certification and use of mitigation outcomes by countries on a voluntary basis should be subject to specific rules and requirements designed to provide for a scaling-up of effort and entailing a net contribution to global mitigation efforts and contributing to sustainable development.

23.2 Those rules and requirements will be defined by 2016, and include eligibility and participation requirements.] ADP 2-8 – agenda item 3 17

Option 3:

23. [In accounting for progress towards meeting their commitments / contributions, including their use of market mechanisms and of the land sector, Parties shall apply the following accounting principles:

23.1 General principles

a. Net changes in emissions of greenhouse gases by sources and removals by sinks recognized towards commitments / contributions should be real, additional, permanent, and verifiable.

b. Parties are encouraged to include all major sources of anthropogenic emissions and removals in their commitment / contribution, as defined by IPCC key categories.

c. For key categories of emissions and removals that are not included in commitments / contributions, Parties are encouraged to include an explanation for their exclusion, and to strive to include these over time.

d. Consistent methodologies should be used for the estimation and reporting of mitigation actions and outcomes over time.

e. To ensure consistency, Parties should use the same baselines, accounting methodologies and approaches throughout the commitment/ contribution/ contribution time frame, including in the base year or other reference point and commitment period, except where technical corrections are required to maintain methodological consistency.

f. Projected reference levels and other dynamic baselines should be subject to technical assessment prior to the commencement of the commitment/ contribution period, to encourage their transparency, completeness, consistency, accuracy and comparability.

g. Parties should avoid double counting of mitigation actions in tracking progress towards their commitments/ contributions by ensuring mitigation outcomes cannot be used more than once.

h. Parties shall use the metric specified by the IPCC in its latest Assessment report and adopted by the COP, unless otherwise decided by the COP.
23.2 Land sector principles

a. Both emissions and removals should be accounted for in assessing progress towards the commitment/ contribution.

b. Once a source, sink, or activity is accounted for, it should not subsequently be excluded from accounting without an explanation for why it has been excluded.

c. Definitions of forest, land use and activities should be used consistently over time.

d. Parties may apply the principles and methodologies of existing approaches under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol to recognizing mitigation outcomes in the land sector, consistent with IPCC guidance where applicable.

e. Parties may exclude emissions and removals resulting from natural disturbances, consistent with the most recent IPCC guidance.

f. Parties should strive to exclude from accounting non-anthropogenic emissions and removals.
23.3 Markets accounting principles

a. Parties shall ensure that units are not counted or claimed more than once.]

Option 4:

23. [An Economic Mechanism is hereby defined.

23.1. The purpose of the economic mechanism shall be to facilitate the fulfillment of NDCs by Parties with quantified economy-wide absolute targets in the mitigation component and to incentivize developing country Parties to take on such targets over time. 23.2. The Economic Mechanism shall be comprised of:

a. an Emissions Trading System (ETS); and

b. an enhanced Clean Development Mechanism (CDM+).
23.3. Under the ETS, Parties with quantified economy-wide absolute targets in the mitigation component of their NDC may participate, on a voluntary basis, in the ETS for the purpose of fulfilling their respective NDC. Any such trading shall be supplemental to domestic actions for the purpose of meeting their targets.

23.4. Under CDM+:

a. Parties with quantified economy-wide absolute targets in the mitigation component of their NDC may, on a voluntary basis, use the certified emission reductions accruing from such project activities for the purpose of fulfilling their respective NDC. Any such accruing shall be supplemental to domestic actions for the purpose of meeting their targets;

b. Developing countries Parties will benefit from project activities resulting in certified emission reductions on a voluntary basis.
23.5. The economic mechanism shall be subject to the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties.

23.6. The CDM+ shall be supervised by an executive board.

23.7. The Conference of the Parties shall define the relevant principles, modalities, procedures and guidelines, in particular for verification, reporting and accountability of the economic mechanism.

23.8. All Parties should actively promote the voluntary cancellation of certified emissions reductions, including by subnational entities and the private sector, with a view to fostering their engagement with mitigation actions and further enhancing the environmental integrity of the mechanism. Parties that put forward a financial pledge or target in their NDC would be entitled to use the amount of certified emissions reductions cancelled on their behalf to comply with their financial targets and pledges, but not their mitigation obligations.]

Option 5:

23. 1 [Parties, when cooperating to achieve their mitigation commitments, shall ensure that cooperative arrangements deliver real, permanent, additional and verified internationally transferable mitigation outcomes in an environmentally integral way, avoid double counting of effort and achieve a net decrease and/or avoidance of emissions;

23.2 The governing body shall develop and adopt standards for implementing paragraph. [23.1] and processes for ensuring that these standards are met;

23. 3 The governing body shall create and strengthen synergies between cooperative arrangements and mechanisms established or to be established under the Convention, its related legal instruments and other relevant institutions;

23.4. Parties agree to account in line with the standards adopted by the governing body the internationally transferable mitigation outcomes that they use towards their commitments/contributions.]

Option 6:

23. [No provisions on market mechanisms and actions in land use sector.]

23 bis. [In meeting the 2 °C objective, Parties agree on the need for global sectoral emission reduction targets for international aviation and maritime transport and on the need for all Parties to work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop global policy frameworks to achieve these targets].

Moving Forward

In addition to the official meetings, ministerial-level meetings throughout the year will include climate change on their agendas and contribute to convergence on the key political choices. These include the Major Economies Forum; the Petersburg Climate Dialogue and the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment with the upcoming G7 and G20 meetings affording further political engagement on climate change and the Paris agreement.

“These opportunities will help to ensure that countries have opportunities to work with each other at several political levels–what is needed now is vertical integration so that the views of heads of state, through ministers and to negotiators reflects a seamless and consistent view of ambition, common ground and ultimately success in December,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres.

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