Quick Stop on Durban COP-November 29
The 17th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC began on Monday in Durban, South Africa. Before the negotiations and side events get into full swing, here is a look at where discussions currently stand for some of the conference's key issues. An in-depth look at the road to Durban can be found here.
The Ecosystem Marketplace team will be on-the-ground throughout the conference, bringing you daily blog updates on these discussions, as well as feature stories on the largest developments.
LULUCF: At the close of COP 16 in Cancun, the discussions around Land use, Land use-change and forestry (LULUCF)--a negotiating track focused on Annex 1 country (developed countries that joined the Kyoto protocol) future commitments under the Kyoto protocol--seemed to be regressing. Developing and developed countries could still not agree on the "logging loophole," which lets developed countries pick and chose which activities they will and will not include in accounting, such as forest management, cropland and grazing land management.
However, the negotiators did agree on one thing: each Annex 1 country would submit a forest management reference level to the secretariat. These levels could serve as baselines for LULUCF in the future and possibly inform a cap on developed countries use of forest management to meet emission reductions--a topic most likely to be debated this year.
Though these negotiations have previously focused on extending the Kyoto Protocol--set to expire next year--the focus at this year's COP will likely be what LULUCF will look like without Kyoto. The discussions are expected to include debates over the voluntary approach to LULUCF-related activities accounting and how much LULUCF activities will contribute to develop countries emissions targets going forward.
REDD: The Cancun agreements demonstrated that some progress was achieved through the COP negotiations when it came to REDD. Though there were no definite commitments, the need for REDD was made clear. For one, the agreements stated the need for national REDD system to prevent leakage with sub-national systems acceptable in the interim as countries get up to speed. Secondly, the agreements said that developed countries would be responsible for funding REDD, although the exact financing mechanism - market-based or otherwise - has yet to be established and will be another point for discussion in Durban. The agreements also renewed a commitment to social and environmental safeguards.
The issue of reference levels, and the related policy and technical issues of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), will be a central sticking point in negotiations, with the debate centering using on historic levels of deforestation versus expected emissions based on project reference levels. However, regardless of what happens at the negotiations, REDD+ and REDD readiness activities will continue to develop through the guidance of UN-REDD Programme, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the REDD+ Partnership.
Grab Bag: Beyond REDD and the extension of Kyoto protocol, expect COP 17 to contain discussion on the Green Climate Fund and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Activities (NAMAs). Established in the COP 16 negotiations, the Green Climate Fund will manage the parties' $100 billion commitment by 2020 to fund climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. The COP discussions will focus on the structure and governance of fund as well as the source of the $100 billion.
NAMAs are a voluntary way to continue to make headway on remission reductions through a variety of approaches to emission reductions at sectoral levels. While this definition has been agreed on, negotiators in Durban will discuss what NAMAs will look like in practice. Ecofys got an early start on this discussion, offering a database that documents the existing variety of interpretations of NAMAs from around the world.