I must apologize. I seem to have given the impression that the Cancun talks started on Monday. My mistake; at least as far as REDD+ is concerned the negotiations only start tomorrow. For the last five days parties have been arguing over which text to begin with.
As this briefing from FIELD sets out, there were broadly four different REDD+ texts available to negotiators after Tianjin; the Copenhagen version (with minor tweaks at Bonn in June), the Bolivian bracketed text, the Saudi bracketed text, and a version prepared by the Chair. The latter version had no formal status as an accepted text, but it is this version that parties have now finally chosen as the basis for their negotiations over the remaining days of COP16. This is the best option. There is limited divergence from Copenhagen. The Chair also cleverly skirted the issue of REDD+ finance (which could not possibly be agreed at this meeting) by stipulating that finance clauses refer only to readiness activities. By doing so, the question of market-based mechanisms, for actual REDD+ implementation, is no longer immediately relevant. The question will still have to be faced eventually, of course, but this text defers it for at least another couple of years.
Tony La Vina, former chair of the REDD+ discussions, agrees that this is the best approach for now. As he says, there is quite a difference between finance through markets, and commoditisation of carbon. The former does not imply the latter, which is at the heart of the concerns of the five Latin American countries. This is still a distinction which is hard to explain, or to understand.
The question remains; what exactly counts as readiness activities? Would a decision based on this text mandate just endless workshops, meetings and baseline calculations? Or would it allow funds to be channeled to practical, useful forest-based activities? This is a question for tomorrow. Negotiators have left it late. They are going to have a tough weekend. But at least they can now begin.
Posted by Ben Vickers