Voluntary Cooperation (ITMOs) the Unknown Monster

An important item under negotiation at COP24 is the concept of voluntary cooperation in mitigation. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 3.08.55 AMThis item is of huge importance as developing countries need funding and financing to engage in low-carbon development and adaptation but they don’t have mandatory mitigation targets. Developed countries are the ones with the economic resources but they also need ways to meet their mitigation targets. This is where the cooperation comes in: a developed country finances a project in a developing country and gets credit for some of the mitigation toward meeting their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).   These are called Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes or ITMOs. But what are the rules around when and how these transfers can occur and how they are accounted for? Transparency, accurate accounting and avoiding fraud are essential to creating a system of integrity. (See my previous blog on blockchain for part of the potential solution.)

Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement is intended to provide some direction but it does so by leaving discretion to the Parties by saying that the framework should be consistent with guidance adopted by the COP. It does however specify that the framework needs to provide guidance to ensure that double counting is avoided. Michael Mehling of MIT released a report recently as part of the Harvard Project on Climate AgreementsGoverning Cooperative Approaches under the Paris Agreement. A concern identified by Michael Mehling is that this system could create a perverse incentive for developing countries to have low NDCs so that they can sell their ITMOs. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 3.09.35 AMBecause NDCs are by definition nationally determined this cannot be addressed directly. However, the report stresses that the parties should be careful not to over-regulate with restrictions as it may limit participation and increase transaction costs. Mehling stated that lacking ambition in NDCs cannot be compensated for with restrictions on the cooperative approach. “Whatever its final shape, the governance framework for Article 6.2 should avoid being too weak or too restrictive, as either outcome would diminish the very benefits that prompted introduction of compliance flexibility in the first place.” (Mehling from Summary Doc.)

The advantage to voluntary cooperation through ITMOs is that it effectively creates a market mechanism, it provides ways to achieve mitigation at a lower cost and should facilitate an overall increase in ambition. However, Juan Pedro Sira, a negotiator on this issue at COP24, said that when the concept was developed in Paris they didn’t know the kind of monster they were creating.

The key is that simple rules are created that are transparent and robust in terms of environmental integrity by addressing ambition, agility, and transparency.   This will help create predictability benefitting developing countries that want to create projects ready for this process and private investors that want to invest. The sense is that this issue is very complicated but extremely important to the success of increasing ambition sufficient to avoid our pending disaster.


Using Blockchain to Avoid Double Counting While Empowering Everyone to be Part of the Solution

Today’s side event at COP24 for Blockchain Technology for Enhanced Climate Action emphasized the importance of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to accelerate mitigation solutions for climate change and empower non-country parties to work together. The event featured the Climate Chain Coalition Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 1.12.56 AMfounded just one year ago but already bringing together 140 organizations with a mission to mobilize climate finance and enhance monitoring, reporting and verification of climate goals.

Blockchain technology is a form of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). (For a good explanation of this technology see this World Bank Group 2017 report.)Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 1.22.55 AM It functions as a decentralized database that can securely store data and digital assets, like environmental credits or certificates. Transparency is increased because the data recorded on the blockchain is a permanent ledger that cannot be modified. Trust between parties is increased because the data is not stored in a centralized location but rather through peer-to-peer transactions. Transaction costs are reduced enabling much smaller transactions that are accessible to more individuals.

A new report issued this week by the Climate Ledger Initiative (a collaboration of several think tanks aiming to accelerate climate action) Navigating Blockchain and Climate Action identified three main areas where blockchain has the most potential to accelerate climate action: 1) next generation registries and tracking systems; 2) digitizing measuring, reporting and verification; and 3) creating decentralized access to clean energy and finance.

The UNFCC has identified blockchain technology as a disruptive technology that has the potential to solve the solution to the main challenge of “how do you attribute the climate contribution while avoiding double counting.” Under the Paris Agreement (PA), a country steps up by submitting their commitment to mitigation measures as their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Theoretically, the development and continued revision of these NDCs will govern the Parties and their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. But the Paris Agreement also encourages developed countries to finance projects in developing countries. Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 5.41.57 PMWho gets the credit toward the NDC – the country financing the project or the country implementing the project? How do we ensure that one country (or entity) doesn’t take credit at one stage of a project and another take credit at a different stage? The security and transparency of blockchain may be the solution. (However, keep a healthy dose of skepticism, said CEO of Goldstandard, Marion Verles, because many times technology solutions are being proposed that don’t actually solve the real world problem.)

Climate change is the seminal issue of our generation and requires all hands on deck. As Massamba Thioye of the UNFCCC said today, “We need to mobilize ALL stakeholders, suppliers, financiers, consumers, citizens, policy makers so that they make the right investment.” The challenge being faced is how do we all work on the solution and create market incentives. Ms. Verles identified the importance of DLT technology in the supply chain to help corporations get the critical data they need to make decisions on the impact that a good has on the planet (carbon impact, water impact, etc).

See GLOCHA - the Global Citizen Empowerment System

See GLOCHA – the Global Citizen Empowerment System for Full Poster

This information can move to the end consumer. If you knew, and could compare, the carbon impact of items you were purchasing, would you pay a little more to make a cleaner purchase? The bottom line is that blockchain has the potential to add a value stream to products that represents the intentional choices of individuals, companies, and countries to work toward a cleaner, safer planet.

(Note bitcoin uses blockchain technology in a very energy intensive manner that is not healthy for our planet – see fellow VLS student Ben Canellys blog here.)

 


It takes more than government

green roof busHundreds of people, from all over the world, gather in Bonn, Germany for the twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP23). At first glance, COP23 appears to be policy driven, science based, and a negotiations filled conference. It is that and more. It has become the place for green industry where 850 different organizations applied to participate in COP23 and offer their products and services.

This interaction did not occur by accident.

When the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, it called for enabling the private sector to “promote and enhance the transfer of, and access to, environmentally sound technologies” in Article 10 (c). In the Paris Agreement, which entered into force in 2016, Article 6.4 (b) calls for incentivizing the public and private sectors to participate in mitigating green house gases. These treaties create the conditions for private sector involvement in mitigation. So private/non-profit organizations are active participants in COP23 and not simply vendors at a trade show.

A good example of such partnership is in transportation, which is one of COP23’s Global Climate Action (GCA) themes. ABB, a for-profit company with over 136,000 employees spread over a 100 countries, works on projects as varied as sun powered rickshaws and clean energy buses. Non-profits have also played a role in shaping climate change policies. Organizations like the Institute for Transportation and Development Policies (ITDP) work with policy makers on an international level and also seek to influence policies at the local level in urban areas.

These organizations go beyond the boundaries of a country and provide needed technical expertise that policy makers sometimes lack. In a recent GCA meeting at COP23, representatives of these organizations pointed out the need for different climate friendly policies in Barcelona, Spain than in Atlanta, GA. Even though they have populations similar in size, Atlanta occupies an area that is over twenty five times larger than Barcelona.


Bonn Challenge Takes First Steps

rainforestThe Bonn Challenge is a global initiative to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million by 2030. So far, 38 countries have pledged to restore 124.32 million hectares in order to achieve this goal. The challenge now is holding these nations to their commitments and ensuring the necessary financing mechanisms are in place to support their efforts.

A partnership of several organizations, including the Global Canopy Programme and Unlocking Forest Finance, has initiated three pilot programs in South America to test a landscape-focused approach. A landscape restoration project focuses on the drivers of deforestation – generally, agriculture and poverty – and works with local communities to manage land uses in a way that meets the needs of the community and the needs of the ecosystem as a whole.

The pilots focus on finding private investors to build disneypermanent markets for premium crops, rather than securing government and NGO grants, because these partnerships will be more permanent and sustainable than a government-sponsored program. For example, Walt Disney has partnered with local coffee farmers in San Martin, Peru to grow sustainably harvested coffee at a fair price for exclusive sale at Disney World. This guarantees the farmers a premium market that ensures their continued participation in the program.

In addition, today the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the launching of its new website for tracking news, analysis, resources, and updates on forest landscape restoration projects around the world. The website so far provides detailed analysis on policies, successes, and failures in 42 different nations. It will also soon offer a “Bonn Challenge Barometer,” which will quantifiably track forest landscape restoration successes in support of the Bonn Challenge and provide resources to help address obstacles to progress.


The Sustainable Development Mechanism AKA The New Carbon Market Mechanism

 

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Photo Source: IBNLive

The Sustainable Development Mechanism is a new mitigation mechanism established in Art. 3 ter of the draft Paris Agreement. The purpose of this mechanism is to “promote the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions [in developing country Parties] while fostering sustainable development….” In order to achieve its goals, the mechanism provides incentives for successfully mitigating GHG emissions. Under this mechanism, Parties that contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions in a host country Party can benefit from their mitigation activities by using the resulting emission reductions to fulfill their own mitigation ambition requirements.

Overall, the structure of the Sustainable Development Mechanism closely resembles the Clean Development Mechanism, which is the carbon market mechanism in the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon markets and offsets were created under Art. 6 of the Kyoto Protocol, which states that “…any Party included in Annex I may transfer to, or acquire from, any other such Party emission reduction units resulting from projects aimed at reducing anthropogenic emissions by sources or enhancing anthropogenic removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in any sector of the economy….” Additionally, the Clean Development Mechanism was established under Art. 12 of the Kyoto Protocol, which provides a process for handling all of the carbon credits created under Art. 6.

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Photo Source: YaleNews

Ultimately, the major difference between the new Sustainable Development Mechanism from the Clean Development Mechanism is that carbon markets will no longer be limited to developed country Parties. Instead, all Parties will be able to participate in this mechanism. Expanding the scope of a carbon market mechanism to allow all types of Parties to participate in transferring mitigation GHG reductions is unprecedented. We don’t know how all Parties will use this mechanism or how successfully it will address sustainable development issues. Therefore, a  s a successful Paris Outcome appears to be on the horizon, this new carbon market mechanism is one more aspect of the Agreement that will be worth watching develop.

 

 


It’s All About the Benjamins: Ratcheting Up Financial Support for Developing Countries

In 2009 Parties to COP15 in Copenhagen agreed to a global goal of mobilizing $100B (that’s right, billion) per year for climate finance by 2020. A recent OECD report indicated that we are well on our way to achieving that goal (with $62B committed in 2014). Unfortunately though, $100B may not even be enough to keep global temperature rise between 1.5˚C and 2˚C. For this rDollarseason, much of the discussion at COP21 has centered on the scale of climate finance. Exactly how much additional funding will be necessary? For now, the answer seems to be “more.”

In response to this need, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), one of the entities responsible for providing climate finance under the UNFCCC, announced a new initiative today: the Climate Aggregation Platform (CAP). The GEF will seed CAP with $2M, which is expected to catalyze over $100M in co-financing from other partners, including from the Inter-American Development Bank.

CAP is just one piece of an ongoing effort by all global actors to increase access to climate financing from a variety of sources. The draft Paris Outcome places an emphasis on the use of public funds, but also acknowledges the role that private finance will play in addressing climate change. Private investors, which currently comprise about 25% of global climate investment, typically offer loans rather than grants. This means that the investors expect to make their money back over time. Therefore, to entice private

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility

investors to promote clean energy in developing countries, there must be some indication that the project represents a sound investment. CAP aims to help facilitate these types of robust investment opportunities.

First, CAP will establish a global working group to provide key finance and industry stakeholders with transparent access to, and coordination of, climate-related projects in developing countries. CAP will also promote project standardization, with the goal of creating uniform contracts and repayment plans. Finally, CAP will develop in-country demonstration projects and provide technical support for other pilot transactions. These actions will serve to increase the number of qualified projects, creating a scalable pipeline of clean energy investments.

Establishing a streamlined framework for project development has two major benefits: It increases the penetration of clean energy technologies in the developing world, thereby serving climate change goals. It also allows investors to aggregate a large number of projects, thereby reducing the financial risk. In the same way that insurance companies profit by insuring large groups of people with a variety of health risks, climate investors will be more successful if they invest in large numbers of projects with a variety of risk profiles. As your financial planner will tell you, a diverse portfolio is generally a strong portfolio.

And confidence is high that, if we build it, they will come. Since the financial crisis of 2008, there is a significant appetite for impact investments, which are transparent investments in projects that have demonstrated social benefits. Many institutional investors, along with independently wealthy individuals, are actively seeking investments like clean energy projects in the developing world. There is approximately $46B in impact investment already under management, and that number is on the rise. Leveraging a small amount of public money has been shown to catalyze additional private investment in these types of projects. Some studies indicate that $1 of public funding can attract $20 of private funding. Just last week, Bill Gates alone pledged to contribute $1B in seed capital to potentially transformative energy systems with “near zero carbon emissions.” And he’s getting his friends to pitch in too.

Developing programs like CAP that foster a strong market for investment in climate-friendly projects is one of the most important things that come from COP21.


Riding the Wave of Divestment

Divestment is essentially the opposite of investment. The climate action group gofossilfree.org describes it as “getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.” Generally speaking, institutions divest when they stop financially supporting specific entities because of the means by which those entities generate revenue. Divestment has been used as an advocacy device for many years, as a means of tackling the tobacco industry, sweat shops, and even apartheid in South Africa.

divestmentarialDivestment of fossil fuels began in 2012 with Bill McKibben’s climate change movement 350.org. Since launching this campaign against traditional fossil fuels, hundreds of organizations – beginning with universities and faith-based organizations, and expanding to municipalities, pension funds, and foundations – have committed to divesting from fossil fuels. In the last month the movement has reached a landmark $2.6 trillion divested. According to one study, 436 institutions and 2,040 individuals across 43 countries, together representing $2.6 trillion in assets, have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.

Many types of investors have embraced fossil fuel divestment, both on the institutional and the individual level. High profile individuals have been particularly active in the divestment from fossil fuels. Specifically, actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo have led the movement to cease investments in traditional fossil fuel companies. Their announcements have served as a means to show legislatures and CEOs alike that United States citizens are taking climate change seriously.

divestmentprotestRather than these red carpet personalities, universities have traditionally been at the forefront of divestiture movements. We continue this trend in Vermont, with many colleges and universities (including VLS) committing resources to exploring divestment opportunities. This has been an important method of expressing students’ and citizens’ dissatisfaction with traditional energy investments. It has also lent support to Vermont’s support of broader energy and climate change goals.

Some studies show that divestiture is not actually effective as an economic driver because it does not force major fossil fuel companies out of business or necessarily compel them to change their practices. Nevertheless, divestment may, in fact, be a smart financial decision, since other recent reports have warned of the negative financial consequences of holding large portfolios of fossil fuels. Additionally, it can have an important impact in terms of shaping national discourse. By bringing climate change issues into the media spotlight, the divestment movement helps to put pressure on the negotiating parties at COP21 in December.


A Woman Saving the Planet

c_figueres_v3_400x400This week’s New Yorker leads off with a “Reporter at Large” article by science writer Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction), The Weight of the World: Can one woman get the U.N. to save the planet?  While ostensibly about UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres – answering the subtitled question, “can [she] persuade humanity to save itself?” –  it is just as much about whether the UNFCCC can do its job of preventing “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (laid out in the treaty’s Article 2 Objective).

Kolbert has nailed the nature of Figueres’s job: It “may possess the very highest ratio of responsibility (preventing global collapse) to authority (practically none).”  And for those who see her working the UNFCCC meetings, Kolbert’s interview quotes ring true: “I have not met a single human being who’s motivated by bad news – not a single human being.”  Hence Figueres’s contention that “all the nations of the world are now working in good faith to try to reach a climate agreement.”  Even Saudi Arabia, which prefers using “low emissions” rather than “decarbonization,” and South Korea, whose recent INDC filing was, um, underwhelming, at best.

Kolbert has also juxtaposed the international climate change negotiations and macro level emissions data with clear-eyed accuracy.  CO2 in the atmosphere has grown from 350ppm in 1992, when the UNFCCC was opened for signature, to 400ppm in 2015 – despite the Kyoto Protocol’s GHG emissions reduction targets. This is in part fueled by the countries not bound by the Protocol:  the US, which refused to ratify it even though it is the world’s largest cumulative emitter, and China, which had no mitigation obligations under the Protocol in 1997 (and still doesn’t) but now ties the EU on per capita emissions.  The EU surpassed its 2012 reduction targets, with some countries showing what the “conscious uncoupling” of economic growth and CO2 emissions can look like (e.g. Sweden, which has a carbon tax and where the economy grew 55% during the last 25 years, reduced its emissions by 23%). Nonetheless, given the impact of cumulative emissions, only decisive action to peak CO2 soon can keep atmospheric warming below the goal of 2C.

Cue COP21 in Paris and the INDC pledges currently being made.  I cannot agree with Kolbert’s description of the Kyoto Protocol as surviving US non-ratification “in a zombielike state.” The institutional apparatus that the EU enabled the UNFCCC to develop – market mechanisms like emissions reductions trading and energy efficiency and renewable energy investments via the Clean Development Mechanism – helped build models for low carbon development in both developing and developed countries.  China has learned from this experience when lowering its emissions. In addition, the continued engagement in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol has fostered bilateral negotiations between the US and China, India, and Brazil.  The new “bottom up” approach of requiring all countries to make “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) builds on these ideas, institutions, and relationships developed during the last 20 years of international climate negotiations.  While this process component is easy to overlook, it’s more sharp-eyed and active than any zombie I know.

 

 


The Inevitable Linkage Discussion

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Let’s face: it is almost the end of 2014 and we are still negotiating an international agreement to mitigate climate change for after 2020. The good news is that several countries have taken the initiative, and adopted climate change policies. These policies vary from emissions trading, carbon taxes, performance standards, among others. But what role will these regional, national, or sub-national policies play under the new international agreement? Yesterday, the International Emissions Trading Association (EITA) held a side event to address this question. The discussion, “Linkage Among Climate Policies in the 2015 Paris Agreement”, had as panelists leader researches on the topic: Robin Stavins, from Harvard University; Daniel Bodansky, from Arizona State University; and Dirk Forrister, from  EITA, among others. The discussion was based on the latest report from the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, “Facilitating Linkage of Heterogeneous Regional, National, and Sub-National Climate Policies Through a Future International Agreement” (November, 2014).

The concept of linkage is fairly simple; it refers to the idea that distinct carbon pricing instruments can be linked together to meet the general goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The linkage can occur is two ways: direct and indirect. The direct linkage occurs when two different schemes mutually accept the emission reduction units from one another to meet their goals. The indirect linkage occurs when two programs, for example cap-and-trade schemes, do not allow the trade of allowances between their programs, but both are direct linked to a third, common trading scheme.

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As wisely explained by Daniel Bodansky, to address this issue the new international agreement can follow three distinct approaches.  The first is to expressly forbid any linkage between different carbon pricing schemes. The second approach is to be silent about the issue, and the third, preferable approach is to allow linkage between different carbon pricing schemes. Allowing linkage would provide a number of benefits to participating countries, including: cost savings; improvement of individual market, through the decrease of market power and price volatility; and equity distribution. Another main interesting point is that, as Robert Stavins (left) pointed out, allowing the linkage between different schemes can potentially increase overall national emission reduction ambitions, as more market options are made available. 

To allow linkage between different climate policies, all panelist agreed that the new agreement shall include a paragraph as simple as possible. As proposed by the panelists, the paragraph shall be limited to expressly allow linkage, define key terms, and provide basic guidance regarding tracking emissions to ensure the environmental integrity. In their opinion, further detailed rules shall be decided by future meetings of the Conference of the Parties. 

While challenging, linkage is already happening in different levels. In fact, the issue is very similar to the decision, in 1997, to allow the co-existence of emissions trading, joint implementation, and clean development mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. Countries are also already dealing with this issue in the national, or sub-national level. California and Quebec Emission Trading Schemes, for instance, are linked since 2013. The same is true for the European Union and Norway Emission Trading Schemes, that signed their linkage agreement back in 2007. Other linkage agreements are expected to happen as the number of cap-and-trade programs increase; up to date there are 20 regional, national, or sub-national trading schemes in operation or scheduled to enter into operation. The linkage issue will not go away, and several examples and options have already been deeply discussed. The remaining question is if the Paris agreement will take the necessary step and deal with this issue, or if the new agreement will be silent. 


ADP Workstream 2: The most pressing and immediate of needs shuffled to end of queue

Under the ADP, two ‘workstreams’ were created to meet climate change goals. Workstream 1 was created to identify Individual Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) that will be signed at the Paris 2015 COP; Workstream 2 was created to fill the ‘gap’ between present and the 2020 date of implementation of the Paris 2015 agreement.

Since the experts agree with the urgency indicated by the IPCC, it is logical to think that the more quickly action is taken, the better the chances are for keeping climate change at bay. So why is the period between now and 2020 being neglected? It may be because the industrialized nations are not yet feeling the ‘heat’ or drowning in the effects of climate change yet. There has been very little talk of this “low hanging fruit” in negotiations this week.Exhibit in Lima, Peru

Talk has turned solely to the INDCs. This is worrisome to the developing nations where change is needed now.  One aspect of the ADP that is under fire from all sides right now is the timing of the 2020 agreement. The EU and other developed nations are pushing for a longer period than 5 years. In a press conference yesterday, the EU said that an 8-year or longer period would signal Parties’ commitments. Developing nations do not see it this way. Developing nations do not welcome the push for longer timeframes, inclusion of private sector funding and references to markets in the text.

With the conversations focused on the INDCs and the post-2020 period, it is likely that the second week will begin with nothing formally on the negotiating table for Workstream 2 and the most pressing issues that face the vulnerable Parties over the next five years. The EU stated that they do not envision anything binding on mitigation over the next 5 years, but perhaps this will be a sticking point for LCDs and AOSIS that have been feeling the effects of climate change for years now.

Bangladesh. Photo by G. Braasch

Bangladesh. Photo by G. Braasch

China suggested perambulatory text for the draft of the ADP decision that states “grave concern” over the gap between now and 2020 while the EU and the US struck text about adaptation and whole paragraphs aimed at pre-2020 ambition through finance and adaptation support. Party submissions are available online but sadly not much is being said about the interim period before the year 2020.


Side (event) . . .

Side events can more than occupy one’s time at a COP.  Presented by a range of actors — academics, activists, businesses, government agencies — they can range in content and quality.  Thus I was fortunate that the few I attended at COP19, given my focus on tracking the ADP negotiations, were fascinating and informative.

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Joana Abrego of the Centro de Incidencia Ambiental, at right.

On the Saturday mid-COP, a day-long conference on human rights and climate chance organized by the Yale University Governments and Environmental Markets Initiative, UNITAR, and the law faculty of the University of Warsaw (that Heather covered well) sought to bring together activists and academics “to
examine how substantive and procedural rights can be used to support, design, and implement effective and equitable solutions to address climate change.”  The third session of the day addressed “human rights, safeguards, and climate mechanisms.”  Dr. Constance McDermott of the University of Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests & Environmental Change Institute provided an overview of forest program safeguards, noting that while the context for the COP19 discussion is REDD+, that these safeguards are rooted in financial institutions like the World Bank.  Joana Abrego of the Centro de Incidencia Ambiental encouraged academics to research the actual implementation of public participation requirements of CDM and REDD+ programs, not just their theoretical constructs.  She described conditions in Panama, where 33% of the territory is protected area, 76% is inhabited by indigenous peoples, and more bird species exist than in U.S. and Canada combined.  She spoke of Panama’s interest in hosting CDM projects, almost all hydropower projects.  With 19 registered projects and 48 in the pipeline, required community engagement and participation have varied significantly.  Abrego described one proposed CDM project, Barro Blanco, which indigenous people fought because of the effect on their river but was nonetheless approved for CDM registration, and Bonyic, another dam project within indigenous peoples’ territory that was rejected by the CDM.  Given this uneven human rights track record, she underscored the need for both research and activism on developing clean energy while protecting IP rights.

Allie Silverman '12 of CIEL.

Allie Silverman ’12 of CIEL.

Allie Silverman of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) focused on safeguards within the REDD+ program of the UNFCCC.  She began by acknowledging that these safeguards, which are procedural and substantive in nature, can be seen by different beholders as either a market-based way to reduce emissions by protecting forests and communities or an attack on indigineous communities, given their traditional place outside international markets.  While CIEL doesn’t take a pro or con position on REDD+ safeguards, it does see the risks of the relatively minimal safeguards, especially as they are put into play on the ground. Allie, VLS’12, who is one of my amazing former students, described CIEL’s rights-based approach to REDD+ project development, implementation, and ongoing monitoring (harkening back to Abrego’s point) and specific projects to extend its reach.  For example, she previewed a web tool (currently in beta form, undergoing peer review) that will provide access to a variety of legal instruments for countries considering REDD projects (e.g. those on self-determination, right to participate, ILO 169, information and consent), intended to help lawyers and legal activitists do their work more effectively.  CIEL is also creating a community guide that builds on the more technical legal information in the web tool to strengthen work with civil society groups like indigenous peoples groups.

In sum, an incredibly exciting side event session, where I learned about one slice of international climate change law as applied and studied from both the ground up and the top down.

And had the joy of watching a former student show her passion for her work post VLS.  Lex pro urbe et orbe.  Law for the community and the world.


Getting Day 2 Off to a Good Start

This morning, COP19 began with a webcast press briefing on emissions trading.  Dirk Forrister, Presidentghgmarket2013-coverthumb and CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (and former US delegation member who has been active since COP1), gave an overview on the growth of market mechanisms and emission trading as private enterprises respond to national incentives set by state parties with Kyoto Protocol targets to meet.  Forrister and his colleague, Jeff Swartz, used this session to announce the 2013 Greenhouse Gas Market Report.  The Q&A was wide ranging, and Forrister did a masterful job replying directly and precisely, thereby breaking down – and teaching – a complex subject.