In the last hours of COP, REDD+ unfortunately remained a weak version of what developing countries expected. REDD+ was seen as one of the success stories of COP16 in Cancun. However, as countries began trying to nail down details regarding both the technical aspects of the program as well as its financing, things got ugly.
The current SBSTA text regarding reference levels, safeguards and MRV (measuring, reporting and verifying) gives countries the opportunity to choose between reference levels (RLs) and reference emission levels (RELs), which many countries see as ill-fitting. RELs refer to the gross emissions from deforestation and forest degradation during a certain time period while RLs refer to the net/gross emissions and removals considering all REDD+ activities (reduced deforestation and forest degradation, conservation, enhancement of carbon stocks and sustainable forest management). Therefore, the comparability factor in emissions between countries will be null. The issue of safeguards and the extent of their guidelines was also heavily debated throughout the COP, as seen in the prevalence of side events on the matter. Developed countries wanted safeguards to be strictly monitored. The EU even proposed in its submission pre-COP17 to have a uniform, international protocol to measure safeguards. That was not taken well. Developing countries wanted safeguards to be country-specific given the qualitative nature of the topic. In the latest text of SBSTA, the implementation of safeguards was broadly kept at the national level. No further text specified how safeguards were to be set aside from “considering national circumstances”.
Financing issues for REDD+ were discussed in the AWG-LCA. Financing issues were naturally a particularly big concern for developing countries that were interested in participating in REDD+, such as Mexico and Indonesia. The non-paper (similar to draft text) that was distributed late last week by the REDD+ Financing facilitator, Tony la Viña, was vastly different from the text that is currently in the AWG-LCA. Key points were kept, such as the creation of a technical paper to discuss further financing issues and a workshop to follow the technical paper. However, the text does not go far into explaining the types of sources of funding available nor the length of support. The original text detailed that “a wide variety of new and existing sources of financing, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including market-based and alternative joint mitigation and adaptation mechanisms, could provide new, additional and predictable combined funding for the full implementation of the results-based actions by developing country Parties…”. This paragraph was the center of hours of debate during negotiations; in the end, not a trace of it made it to the final AWG-LCA text. Instead, Parties were invited to “submit to the secretariat, by 5 March 2012, their views on modalities and procedures for financing results-based actions”.
We’ll have to wait to see what these new submissions and technical paper bring to the table. Maybe before COP18? Wishful thinking.