Quick Stop on Durban COP-December 2
5 December 2011 | DURBAN |Over the weekend, we saw the creation of two key documents: the SBSTA decision on reference levels and the formulation of that decision as an agenda item for this week’s high-level talks. Several delegates said the text provided enough guidance on reference levels for developing countries to begin moving forward, even though it fell short of the most optimistic expectations.
This post will be updated throughout the day until we feel it’s complete enough to be upgraded from the status of blog post to article, at which point we will post it as a stand-alone article on Ecosystem Marketplace. We will be in meetings throughout the morning, but hope to update this in the afternoon. Feel free to check back, or – better yet – if you’re here at the COP and have additional insight, feel free to contact Steve Zwick at email@example.com. We are all ears.
A wave of optimism rolled through Forest Day on Sunday in Durban, as Tony La Viña, facilitator of the SBSTA REDD+ Contact group, offered an optimistic assessment of the SBSTA decision – one that several agreed.
“This is the best decision to come out of this process since the Bali Action Plan, and in a world of much lower expectations,” says John-O Niles, co-founder of the Tropical Forest Group.
Others, however, say the text offers more of the same.
“The new text fails to do what it is supposed to do,” says Joerg Seifert-Granzin, an economist who advises the Katoomba Incubator. “It was supposed to provide guidance on how to establish emission levels, but it only repeats things that have already been agreed on.”
He points out that a previous text, issued on December 1, offered precise guidance on a range of technical issues, including a clear definition of which national circumstances would be considered for establishing emission levels, and which would not. The current draft merely states that different approaches can be used.
The decision also calls for consultations and expert meetings, but Seifert-Granzin points out that expert meetings were held last month, and they resulted in draft conclusions which were supposed to feed into this month’s talks. Instead, they were simply alluded to but not considered.
Niles concedes the shortcomings, but says it’s the best we could hope for under the circumstances.
“Basically, as a result of this, SBSTA, through a COP decision, will establish a process with very specific information about what they’re looking for,” he says. “They have established a review process but need guidance, and that will be done at SBSTA 37. We couldn’t get any more here.”
He says that the level of specificity is good enough that developing countries can begin moving forward.
“We have been asking developing countries to submit information on baselines and reference levels for years,” he says. “Do you know how many have been submitted? Zero, because no one knows what to do.
They have the framework and the principles and so many details for what they have5to do. They know it will go through an independent review, and that reference levels at that point are proposed – they are not theirs.
We came in this morning expecting to top off a fairly optimistic curtain-raiser, but several other delegates are throwing a wrench into that assessment.
Highlights from Tony La Viña’s Forest Day Update
“I would have preferred a much more detailed guidance from the outset, but when I started looking at the content, the possible content and making it more detailed, I realized that we are flying blind into this. That there is very little experience of safeguards in the world that is directly related to REDD. And it is actually better if you have that experience first, before we detail the guidance. So I actually welcome this pace for a year, maybe even more, so that there is real experience on the ground so we know what kind of information really is needed to enforce the safeguards.”
“I welcome this decision of SBSTA which actually says ‘We will review what we have on the basis of consistency, comprehensiveness, effectiveness and transparency in the way the information around safeguards is provided. The work is cut out for is the next year to do that, but it is all in the spirit of advancing implementation.”
“The real breakthrough, I think, as well in the SBSTA decision is the decision on reference levels. For a while there yesterday afternoon, we actually thought that there would be no agreement, simply because it is so technical, there is so much to be dealt with. We had a very big political issue around adjustment according to national circumstances which some of us are concerned about and can have impacts on environmental integrity. But we were able to sort it out and I feel quite happy with the results. At least it gives guidance in fact in how they will now construct reference levels.
4 December 2011 | DURBAN | 1900 GMT | Odd as it may seem, negotiators appear to have made stunning progress on both REDD and LULUCF. We're still checking a few things, and will post a full article early Monday morning.
3 December 2011 | DURBAN | 0900 GMT | Closed SBSTA talks went late into the night as negotiators reworked SBSTA language related to safeguards and reference levels after Brazil moved to push such talk back to the next SBSTA meeting. The most recent text, which came out Thursday morning, calls for the establishment of reference levels that can be adjusted in the future, but Brazil said it couldn't sign off on anything relating to reference levels until interlinked issues are dealt with - such as agreement on how to anticipate drivers of deforestation.
Several parties expressed outrage at Brazil's stance, and accused them of deliberately trying to sabotage talks.
"They had plenty of time to raise these issues," said one party. "Why do bring it up now?"
Nils Hermann Ranum, of the Rainforest Foundation Norway, even speculated that Brazil was trying to sabotage REDD globally to benefit their own REDD market, which is fairly advanced.
2 December 2011 | We had a dramatic day in Durban, with the SBSTA scientific sub-committee releasing a draft text on REDD+ that looked ready for Saturday's plenary despite vocal criticism from developing countries, especially on safeguards and reference levels, but was then quickly called back. It's now past 10pm, and the text is being redrafted almost paragraph by paragraph. We look for a complete redrafting of the sections on emission levels, and plenty of brackets on safeguards.
We'll offer a detailed analysis tomorrow.
Meanwhile, we had another interesting discussion with members of the Bolivian delegation on their new "Living Forests" offset proposal. It aims to harness money from the Green Climate Fund to support indigenous activities in support of the forests. The payments won't be market-based, but they would, by nature, have to be performance-based.
"It's not meant to replace REDD, but rather is something that can exist beside it," said one member of the delegation.
We've scheduled a meeting with the delegation tomorrow to get details, but given the late-night negotiations, it's possible that won't happen. Tomorrow should be a full day, with the new SBSTA draft and the LCA plenary. Stay tuned.