REDD, CDM Likely To Find A Place In New Climate Agreement: Figueres

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By Gloria Gonzalez

15 November 2013 | WARSAW | Despite the challenges in the Clean Development Mechanism and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), both mechanisms are likely to find a place in the international climate agreement expected to be reached in 2015, said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

The future of REDD+ has been a major topic of discussion and debate at the international climate talks in Warsaw this week as developed and developing countries strive to reach enough common ground on issues such as reference levels and monitoring, reporting and verification to allow billions of dollars to be directed toward these projects.

In a question-and-answer session hosted by Dirk Forrister of the International Emissions Trading Association, Figueres said she is optimistic that REDD+ can serve as a mechanism in the climate agreement being negotiated. “I think there’s a good chance of it being included and it’s moving in that direction,” she said. However, the challenge for REDD relates to funding. “That’s a much more difficult question.”

Figueres also sees a future for the CDM, as African countries remain interested in an agreement that will preserve and strengthen the struggling market, something that was the major topic of conversation at the Africa Carbon Forum in July. South Africa is leading the call to reform the CDM and ensure its place in a future climate agreement.

“As you heard from the Africans, I think there is a true legitimate interest in building up the CDM because there are many countries that felt left out and still feel left out and that feel more comfort with mechanism that is more broadly known, for which the rules are there,” Figueres said. “It’s just a more comforting space to move into.”

Even moving into a broader scope for new market mechanisms, there will still be room for the CDM, both for individual projects and for Programme of Activities, she said.

“I’m the first one to admit that we’re in a valley of the CDM,” Figueres continued. “But I don’t believe the EU is always going to be the only source of demand and my sense is that as we move into the 2015 agreement, it’s going to be evident that we need different types of supply into a market that is going to have to be much larger than the market we have right now. I think it definitely has a role in the 2015 agreement. How much of it is going to be transacted before the 2015 agreement goes into force really depends on what the demand is going to be. It’s much more of an issue of demand than it is of supply.”

Figueres cited three exciting market developments from the past year, including her home country Costa Rica launching a domestic carbon market in September. “It’s about showing yet again that no matter how small you are and how clean you are, that you can still make an effort toward reducing your emissions even more and that market mechanisms are a really good way to do that,” she said.

On a much larger scale, China’s launching of its pilot carbon trading programs was another key highlight, she said. It was interesting to see the country motivated by a confluence of factors, including global health and the realization that this action was necessary to maintain its competitiveness in the world, Figueres said. “All of those national agendas playing into and serving a global purpose is actually very exciting,” she said.

The International Civil Aviation Organization finally finding some common ground in an effort to address emissions from the aviation sector was another critical development, she said. 

Gloria Gonzalez is the Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace's Carbon Program. She can be reached at
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