Parties have three distinct land-use issues before them in Warsaw: a framework to account for mitigation from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) in Kyoto Protocol countries; a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, sustainably managing forests, and conserving and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+); and issues relating to global agriculture.
Adopted for the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period and later amended by the Durban Agreements, the LULUCF mechanism received little debate in the first week of COP19. Parties punted methodological issues related to LULUCF in the Clean Development Mechanism and technical considerations for the post-2020 land-use framework (by agreeing to continue working on it in 2014).
Conversely, parties spent a significant amount of time on REDD+ issues. REDD+ was adopted as part of the Cancun Agreements. COP 19 is poised to move the mechanism forward by deciding four items: two methodological issues, coordination of finance for REDD+ implementation, and results-based payments. Parties focused on the methodological matters in week one, and by the end of the week had already spent three late nights sequestered in a room hashing out text. However, the COP will not consider these draft decisions unless they form part of a package with decisions on coordination of finance and results-based payments. In week two, parties will abruptly switch gears and start negotiations on financial matters related to the full implementation of REDD+.
Finally, a workshop last week discussed adaptation of agriculture to climate change. However, Parties cannot agree whether to negotiate issues related to agriculture here in Warsaw. While several developed countries supported creating a contact group, the G77+China pointed out that Parties had neither agreed to nor requested discussions beyond the workshop, defeating consensus on the issue and putting a hard stop on agriculture negotiations at COP19.
Looking across LULUCF, REDD+, and agriculture reveals a pathway for increasing the role that land use plays in climate change mitigation and adaptation. In week two, parties may take their first steps in that direction when high-level officials discuss how land — including forests – factors into the post-2020 agreement. This meeting creates an exciting possibility for both developing and developed countries to begin thinking about how to make the land-use sector a central player in addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation under the UNFCCC.