From the Editors
The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News
Tracking Terrestrial Carbon
Officials participating in the United Nations (UN) climate talks in Lima, Peru often debated well past the witching hour, but had to pare down the negotiating text to scare up agreement on a final document.
Singapore Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan offered a colorful (and somewhat disturbing) metaphor for the compromise: "Before embarking on any surgery, the most important question is whether it is necessary, and you have to ask, 'What are the potential complications?'" he said. "If you are submitting for circumcision, be careful it doesn't become an amputation because the surgeon used too big a knife and took too much flesh."
The "surgery" went forward nonetheless, and the 50-page document shrunk down to a sleek 22 paragraphs. The "Lima Call for Action" set a procedure for countries to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – the country-level emissions-reductions proposals that will serve as the basis of the climate deal expected to be inked in Paris next year. While the previous document included a fair amount of detail, such as several options for including land-use provisions in INDCs, the "circumcised" one is less prescriptive, simply asking countries to explain their "land-use accounting approaches and expected use of market mechanisms."
Going forward, a key point of contention will continue to be the decades-old rift between the developed countries that have historically emitted the most carbon dioxide and the developing countries that currently bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change. But these developing nations are also poised to spew out a dangerous amount of carbon pollution in the coming decades if they do not soon steer towards a low-emissions development path.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) established during the 16th Conference of Parties (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico aimed to finance this transition, with developed countries pledging $100 billion per year by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation. Countries have been slow in ponying up the dough, but the GCF did reach a critical milestone in Lima as contributions from Norway and Belgium pushed it over the $10 billion threshold.
The onus is now on the GCF to assess and secure board approval for projects ahead of COP 21 in Paris. REDD projects could be among those fast-tracked since forest management and land-use have been defined as focus areas of the GCF.
"I would be more than delighted if some of the projects approved include forestry projects," said Héla Cheikhrouhou, GCF's Executive Director. But given the short time frame to Paris, she warned: "Don't bring us concepts that will take years to develop."
Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we're wrapping up 2014 with some reflections, and we invite you to submit yours. What do you think were the top forest carbon stories of 2014? Rank the stories here, and make sure to give us your 2015 predictions for forest carbon, too! We'll publish select ones in our New Year's edition.
Wishing you a happy holiday.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
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