From Green Light to REDD Light?

Negotiations on REDD ran into some trouble between the hours of 11:00 pm and 3:00 am Monday night, with the result that what was a three page document with few brackets is now a heavily bracketed seven-pager full of options that it seem it will now be left to Ministers to sort out. The United States and Colombia are apparently the two countries bearing the primary responsibility for these fairly unexpected last minute additions and changes, winning them both third place at the ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards Tuesday evening  (the ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards, hosted by the Climate Action Network, have become a very popular daily event set up to name and shame Parties having done the most to prevent progress in the process).

The revised REDD text as of 9 AM can be viewed here. To learn what’s different, keep reading. 

So what is different? Quite a lot actually, with a number of the newly created options dependent on discussions in the other AWG-LCA sub-groups (i.e. those discussing the various elements of the Bali Action Plan), with (still) highly contentious discussions on finance probably bearing the most weight. This is apparent from the first paragraph in which previously the bracketed “by 2030” objective of the unbracketed collective aim to “reduce emissions by halting and reversing forest cover loss in developing countries” now includes 3 options with additional bracketed text citing specific reductions targets and financial commitments by developed countries, the first option devoid of any specific timeframe at all (the latter being the one most likely to make it through).

In way, this should not be so surprising. The inter-dependency of the various elements of a final agreement being discussed in the different sub-groups is something that people have long recognized, with an underlying awareness that the relatively smooth discussions going on about would always be, to some extent, at the mercy of what was going on in other discussion where considerably less progress was being made. A lot people are wondering how REDD is going to be built into the bigger picture over the next 3 days.

Much of the unbracketed language on safeguards, including reference to the UN-DRIP, transparency and effective participation, remains. As for the safeguard affirming “actions that are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, including safeguards on the conversion of natural forests, and enhance other social environmental benefit,” the entire thing is now bracketed with a second option added. Here the term ‘incentivize’ has been introduced, with the key difference between option one and two being whether actions “incentivize” the above, or do not “incentivize the conversion of natural forests to non-native species.” All safeguards have been weakened somewhat by the fact that where the affirmation that all safeguards ‘should be promoted’ appeared final in the previous draft, ‘promoted’ is now bracketed, with a second bracketed option of ‘supported’ now on the table. These particular changes have been attributed to the United States. Previously unbracketed text referring to monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of adherence to safeguards is also now bracketed in all of the various options for text on developing MRV systems.

The phased approach has become a subject of some contention due primarily to concerns over how the criteria for each phase will be developed. The entire previously unbracketed paragraph on the phase approach now finds itself in brackets. Tuvalu has reportedly further objected to any mention of a phased approach. The small island’s reasoning is not entirely clear. One likely explanation is the general feeling that inclusion of the phased approach in the text to come out of Copenhagen is putting in place the foundation for linking REDD to the market (once  a country has reached the third phase). This is very unlikely to be determined here in Copenhagen, as there is no country reasonably expected to make it to the third phase any earlier that 2012.

Rumour has it that the Bella Centre will be closed to Observers Thursday and Friday, but no one seems to be sure.

posted by Allison Bleaney

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