Negotiators face critical decisions on the future of forests
during the COP19 climate talks in Warsaw. The formal talks will resume on how to disperse funds for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) projects. Like Goldilocks, participants face three choices, but if they disagree on what is 'just right', they could significantly delay a final decision.
The first two options call for continued engagement under existing institutions, but the third – advocated primarily by Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Coalition of Rainforest Nations – calls for the creation of a new "REDD-plus body" that would act as "the overall advisory body to the Conference of the Parties to improve coherence and coordination in the delivery of financial and technical support for the implementation of the [emission-reduction] activities."
PNG proposed the creation of the REDD+ body last year
in Doha, and argues that it's needed so developing countries will not assume the expense of creating reference levels if they do not see money on the table and clear guidance on how it can be earned. Countries opposed to the committee's creation argue that existing mechanisms operating under the World Bank, such as the Green Climate Fund and other entities, already provide the money and the guidance, and that a new committee adds another layer of bureaucratic complexity to an already cumbersome process.
In a harsh critique, Stephen Leonard of the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group said: "The reality is that a new REDD+ committee will take years to establish and will hold up financing of REDD+. It comes as a surprise that this idea would even be supported by Rainforest nations when finance is so desperately needed. The underlying pieces are in place and Warsaw has the potential to provide a REDD+ package. This positive outcome is currently being held hostage by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, led by PNG."
Last week, negotiators signed off on detailed guidance for two critical issues: namely, how to develop reference levels that measure a country's rate of deforestation and how to determine which activities can be recognized and incentivized under a pay-for-performance mechanism. Much of the text regarding activities, however, is contingent on negotiators reaching agreement on finance.
The Polish government is pushing for a quick solution to the financing issue this week in order to leave the talks with a solid and comprehensive REDD+ text.
Ministers are meeting to map out high-level guidance for all land-use issues after 2020, and several countries – notably Norway, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Colombia – are rumored to be announcing a multilateral arrangement on Wednesday.