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EU Forest Watch Cancun Special Issue January 2011


based approaches is that national policies and reforms, such as land-use planning and clarifying land-titling issues are essential to tackle the drivers of deforestation. It is clear then that the inclusion of interim sub-national accounting in the Cancun agreements was a step backwards in terms of dealing with forest loss. In South Africa it will be essential that governments close any loopholes which allow project based accounting, to ensure that credits from forest projects remain excluded from any UN climate agreement.

Finance: No decision has yet been formally taken on long term

  • nance for REDD. ere is a fundamental split between parties

over whether to allow REDD nance to be generated through a carbon market, allowing developed countries to buy REDD oset credits rather than reducing their carbon emissions at home. Many countries opposing such nancing view the provision of reliable

  • nance as the historical responsibility of what are described in

negotiations as “developed” countries. Questions of distribution of nance, i.e. whether money should be disbursed through a fund administered at national level or some other institution or whether payments should be direct between a party delivering emission reductions and a party paying for such ‘performance’ also remain undecided and controversial. Many countries prefer that distribution of incentives occurs through a fund, and consider the establishment in Cancun of a Green Climate Fund as a vehicle for fund based disbursement.

2011 - a critical year for forests

In view of the undecided elements of the REDD decision, 2011 will be a crucial year for forests. Amidst increased REDD pilot project activities triggered by the Cancun agreement, the specic items that will continue to be discussed in the lead-up to COP 176 in South Africa are:

  • e Ad hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative

Action (AWG-LCA) will discuss long-term nance for REDD and report to COP 17. Whilst there is, at this stage, no formal request for submissions on nance specic to forests, elsewhere the adopted LCA text invites submissions from parties and observers by 21 February 2011 on ‘the establishment of mechanisms to enhance the cost eectiveness of mitigation actions at COP 17, including market-based and non-market based mechanisms’.

  • e Subsidiary Body on Scientic and Technical Advice

(SBSTA) workplan in 2011 includes developing guidance on a system for providing information on how safeguards

mentioned in the REDD sections of the Cancun agreements are being addressed and respected.

  • e SBSTA will also develop modalities for determining

national (and sub-national) forest monitoring systems and reference levels in order to measure emission reductions.

  • is work will build on the methodological guidance

provided in a previous SBSTA decision.7


  • e Cancun meeting is seen as having prevented the collapse

of the UN climate negotiations process. It has also shown that with the current lack of commitment from “developed” countries to live up to their historical responsibilit , no agreement that will eectively tackle climate change will emerge from this process. e AWG-LCA mandate is extended for a year to continue discussions on several elements of the package, including the legal form of the treaty to follow the Kyoto Protocol’s rst commitment period.

While the adopted REDD text mentions safeguards and the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, the overall REDD framework is one of establishing reference levels to calculate forest carbon emissions rather than one that enables coordinated actions which have the potential to prevent deforestation because they address the drivers of forest loss.8 In political terms, the REDD decision in Cancun appears to further legitimise ongoing multi- lateral processes outside the UN. And while the UN climate talks continue to dodge an explicit decision on the central question of how REDD action will be nanced, these multi-lateral processes operate on a clear assumption that REDD action will be nanced through carbon trading. is is evidenced by the World Bank opening talks on signing of ‘Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreements’ – the technical term for carbon osets.

With the REDD decision in Cancun expected to trigger an increase in REDD pilot activities, there is increasing concern among indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities that the safeguards in the REDD decision, and the lack of commitment to implement and monitor them will be insucient to prevent forest peoples losing out from the globally agreed REDD deal. Ultimately, the consequences of adopting weak and ineective protection of forest peoples’ rights will be borne by forest dependent communities faced with activities that are triggered by the Cancun REDD agreement, with increased risk that REDD activities will fuel conict, undermine forest peoples’ rights and fail to reduce deforestation.


  • 1.


  • 2.

    e Cancun Agreement currently contain pledges from the Copenhagen Accord. Climate impacts of the CA presented here: Rogelj, J., et al (2010) Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges

a n d i t s g l o b a l c l i m a t i c i m p a c t s a s n a p s h o t o f d i s s o n a n t a m b i t i o n s . E n v i r o n m e n t a l R e s e a r c h L e t t e r s 5 . h t t p : / / i o p s c i e n c e . i o p . o r g / 1 7 4 8 - 9 3 2 6 / 5 / 3 / 0 3 4 0 1 3 / p d f / 1 7 4 8 - 9 3 2 6 _ 5 _ 3 _ 0 3 4 0 1 3 . p d f

  • 3.

    ENDS Europe. EU to rethink its position after Kyoto 2 rejection. Wednesday, 12 January 2011. http://www.endseurope.com/index.cfm?go=25361&referrer=search

  • 4.


  • 5.


  • 6.

    e SBSTA will also develop a work programme to identify drivers of deforestation and degradation, and methodologies for estimating emissions and removals from these

for consideration by COP 18 in 2012.

  • 7.

    Decision 4 /CP.15 http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/eng/11a01.pdf#page=11

  • 8.

    ere has been much research to outline the problems of baseline setting and determining reference levels from land based emissions: Dooley (2009) Why Congo Basin

countries stand to lose out from a market based REDD. FERN, UK. http://www.fern.org/campaign/forests-and-climate/brieng-note; Karsenty A (2009) What the (Carbon) Market Cannot Do. CIRAD, Perspectives No. 1. http://www.cirad.fr/en/news/all-news-items/articles/2009/just-out/perspective

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