The REDD+ long term finance negotiations under the LCA have been ongoing for the last week – everyday, almost 14hrs a day. It’s the last day of COP17, and we’re still trying to figure out if we’ll have an agreement under the AWG-LCA.
Unlike the REDD+ negotiations under SBSTA (about safeguards, reference levels and MRV) where we mostly discussed technical issues, these negotiations have been a lot more politically charged. Although frustrating to see, it’s been interesting to see the political dynamics and negotiating savvy/grit of different countries. Minimum and maximum negotiating positions are set, and it’s a matter of how many parties you can convince to take your side.
The meetings are closed to country parties only (no observer organizations ie NGOs, etc), so I can’t explicitly mention country stances or delegate names, but I do want to give an idea of the compromises made and the positions that have been more hardline. Just a quick note on the ‘closed’ meetings – apparently, for transparency purposes, there’s a rule that allows observers in the first and last round of talks. But if a party objects (and one always does), then all the negotiations in between get closed off to negotiators only. So much for transparency.
The main positions brought up were:
- A wide variety of funding sources be available for ‘phase 3,’ or the implementation phase of REDD+
- Finance is based on results-based actions (the 5 activities under REDD+)
- Countries have the right to choose what kind of source and combination thereof
- A joint mitigation-adaptation (that takes a more integral view of forest ecosystems) mechanism could be developed
- Robust MRV (monitor, report and verify) in implemented and Safeguards (biodiversity, indigenous/local community rights, leakage, etc) are addressed for finance to be available
- There be a workshop and technical paper giving parties more in-depth information on the various sources, and their implications
Text on these topics were carefully crafted over exhaustive shuttle negotiations, break-out caucuses and multiple bilateral talks. The main sticking point here is how market-based finance can be applied. In this context, a few parties, and one leading the position (a large emerging country) are against REDD+ being used for carbon offsets because it reduces the ambition of Annex I emission targets.
6 main options for text on this topic were created. Yesterday, the REDD+ LCA chair, Tony La Vina, then sent the options to the AWG-LCA chair to send up to the Ministerial level so that they can decide at a higher level. However, the LCA chair sent it back to the negotiators to try to reduce the options and give another shot at getting a consensus on text. So we gave it another shot, and this time, it looked like a compromise text would reduce the options down to 2. (The other option is only supported by one small island country who is currently unwilling to move to the compromise text)
At about midnight last night, it looked like we achieved a breakthrough agreement, however ONE word prevented that from happening. The compromise text recognizes that a wide variety of sources, including public, private, multialteral, and bilateral could be applied. It also “considers market-based approaches, as appropriate, developed by the Conference of the Parties.” Almost all countries were on board, however, two developed countries disagreed in lieu of fears that such wording could make any nationally developed carbon market irrelevant. Their interpretation (disagreed by many), was that a COP decision/COP developed market mechanism will be the only one eligible. They then proposed the following text revision: “considers market-based approaches, as appropriate, [including those] developed by the Conference of the Parties.” The word “including” was debated for another hour or two, and became so contentious that all 4 options previously taken off the table were now re-inserted, and a new one was added. So at 2am last night, instead of reducing to 2, we ended up with 7 text options! The frustration and anger from some parties were unleashed, generating some heated and impassioned back and forths. Didn’t need coffee to stay awake for that.
It’s now 6:30pm on the last day, and it’s just a waiting game to find out parties’ true minimum negotiating positions. Bilaterals have been going on all day to try to arrive at a compromise. Based on the status of the talks, I’m optimistic that an agreement will ultimately be achieved, however, I this will unlikely be finalized until the wee hours of the morning – when we know more about the future of the Kyoto Protocol and what form the AWG-LCA take moving forward. (a set of much more heated negotiations!)