The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) organized a side event on Insights from REDD+ MRV process. REDD+ involves the implementation of five activities and MRV stands for measuring, reporting, and verification. The event also included a panel of two countries, Malaysia and Ghana, and a LULUCF expert on their experiences with REDD+.
REDD+ MRV procedurally came from COP19 under the Warsaw Framework on REDD+. The full history on REDD+ can be found here. Decision 13/CP.19 provided the guidelines and procedures for the technical assessment of submissions from Parties on proposed forest reference emission levels for forest reference levels. Decision 14/CP. 19 provided modalities for MRV. There are 4 steps of REDD+ MRV process which include: submission of FREL/RFL, technical assessment of FREL/FRL, submission of results as a technical annex to a BUR, and technical analysis of results.
Elizabeth Philips from Malaysia facilitated the REDD+ program in her country. It has a system where forests are at a subnational jurisdiction. They have a bottom-up approach for REDD+. What they learned from this process was to have their regional experts improve the data by fixing soil carbon and looking into dead wood and dead matter. The technical assessment helped to bridge the gaps. “This was not just a system on paper, but one that has been implemented.”
Roselyn Fosuah Adjei from Ghana talked about her country’s draft submission to the UNFCCC. There are three areas that Ghana looked into: deforestation, forest degradation, and carbon stocks enhancement. One of the challenges they dealt with was illegality. Ghana’s IP based their data and maps on indigenous knowledge that is generationally passed down. Illegality was a concern because this knowledge was not recorded or stored anywhere. Ghana’s IP based their data and maps on indigenous knowledge that is generationally passed down. Due They had some, but not all. Ghana does hope to submit a modification to its initial draft before going into the results based demonstration of REDD+.
Jason Funk, a LULUCF expert, spoke about his experience as an expert in this field. Due to the REDD+ MRV process as being more facilitative and constructive in nature, it is a collaboration with the country to work on their forest reference emissions level. His position is more of a peer review process that helps the country feel more confident about the work because of having someone else review the material.
“The only people with the power to actually change anything are the local elected officials.”
– the Environmental Minister of Ghent, Belgium
No matter what happens in the international climate change negotiations, there is one thing everyone can agree on: the impacts of climate change, and the actions taken to address it, will ultimately happen on a local level.
This was recognized by the United Nations during the first-ever “Cities Day” on Thursday (full title: “COP Presidency Cities and Sub-national Dialogue of the Cities Day”), which would have been a real milestone if not for what Christiana Figueres called “the elephant in the room”: the delegates negotiating the ADP had cut the provisions that many in the room had worked so hard to get in.
“I know you were delighted to see the original text [proposed] by the chairs… and know you must be disappointed by the version this morning,” the Executive Secretary stated.
Monday’s draftincluded a vague “activities to identify and implement adaptation and mitigation actions”, and a sub-national forum to be held in conjunction with the next ADP session in June 2014.
4(f) Welcoming and encouraging activities to identify and implement adaptation and mitigation actions, including through cooperative initiatives, at the national and multilateral levels and by subnational and local governments and non-State actors;
5(b) The organization of a forum to identify key priority areas for collaborative work on mitigation and adaptation at the sub-national level, to be convened in conjunction with the session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action that is held concurrently with the fortieth sessions of the subsidiary bodies (June 2014);
In Thursday morning’s draft, that language disappears, replaced by a plan for a new –something- to facilitate sharing of best practices by cities in order to enhance mitigation ambition, under an entirely new number. The ADP negotiators have a funny way of saying “Happy Cities Day”.
7. Resolves to enhance mitigation ambition, as a matter of urgency and guided by the principles of the Convention, by accelerating the full implementation of the decisions constituting the agreed outcome pursuant to decision 1/CP.13 (Bali Action Plan)1 and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol2 and by launching the [X] to ensure the highest possible mitigation efforts under the Convention by:
As of Friday morning, the text looked much better. ICLEI President David Cadman encouraged people in the morning Cities Day events to talk to negotiators to get the original language back in, and seems to have succeeded. Cities and subnational governments are included in plans for technical meetings in conjunction with the next ADP session in June; the sub-national forum to be held in conjunction with the next ADP session in June 2014 returns (4d); and facilitation of exchange of info between cities included. What it means practically is more meetings and reports and business as usual for the UNFCCC, but it may mean more resources for the people actually doing the work on the ground in the future.
4. The ADP requested the secretariat to conduct the following activities in order to implement decision -/CP.195:
(b) In relation to paragraph 4 of that decision, enhance the visibility on the UNFCCC website of quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets, quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments and nationally appropriate mitigation actions;
(i) Organize, under the guidance of the Co-Chairs of the ADP, technical expert meetings at the sessions of the ADP in 2014 to share policies, practices and technologies and address the necessary finance, technology and capacity-building, with a special focus on actions with high mitigation potential, including those identified in the technical paper “Updated compilation of information on mitigation benefits of actions, initiatives and options to enhance mitigation ambition”,6 with the participation of Parties, cities and other subnational authorities, civil society and the private sector;
(d)In relation to paragraph 5(b) of that decision, convene, during the session of the ADP to be held in conjunction with the fortieth sessions of the subsidiary bodies, a forum to help share among Parties the experiences and best practices of cities and subnational authorities in relation to adaptation and mitigation.
5. Decides to accelerate activities under the workplan on enhancing mitigation ambition in accordance with decision 1/CP.17, paragraphs 7 and 8, by
(b) Facilitating the sharing among Parties of experiences and best practices of cities and subnational authorities in identifying and implementing opportunities to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, with a view to promoting the exchange of information and voluntary cooperation;
“Facilitating the sharing among Parties” seems to have hit the cutting room floor, but it appears that cities will in fact have a place at the expert meetings and the forum during the next ADP meeting
4. The ADP requested the secretariat to conduct the following activities in order to implement decision -/CP.19:3
(c) In relation to paragraph 5(a) of that decision:
(i) Organize, under the guidance of the Co-Chairs of the ADP, technical expert meetings at the sessions of the ADP in 2014 to share policies, practices and technologies and address the necessary finance, technology and capacity-building, with a special focus on actions with high mitigation potential, taking note of those identified in the technical paper “Updated compilation of information on mitigation benefits of actions, initiatives and options to enhance mitigation ambition”,4 with the participation of Parties, civil society, the private sector and cities and other subnational authorities, where appropriate;
(d) In relation to paragraph 5(b) of that decision, convene, during the session of the ADP to be held in conjunction with the fortieth sessions of the subsidiary bodies, a forum to help share among Parties the experiences and best practices of cities and subnational authorities in relation to adaptation and mitigation.
As I approached the stadium after a kebab dinner near Rondo Warzyngtona, I heard what sounded like people singing from inside the stadium. A lot of people.
Not having Tracy’s patience to sit in line, I went in search of the commotion. My guess to go inside the stadium on the elusive Level 0 was correct, as I could hear the chanting much more clearly.
“Stop climate madness! Stop climate madness!” they chanted.
The canny organizers of the Climate Action Network had cleverly exploited an underutilized feature of this venue, where the plenary rooms are temporary structures set up on the playing field; stadiums echo. The 100 people or so chanting at the wall of Plenary 1 sounded like 1000. And apparently they had gone through the proper channels to arrange this too, as there was no problem from security, even when it ended and people headed away. The United Nations does allow protests, if you schedule it with them.
“We Stand With You! We Stand With You!” the protesters chanted, in support of the Philippines.
Will it make a difference? As Tracy said, the delegates could hear it. And she was in the room on the other side of the stadium.
The UNFCCC COP 19 has wrapped up a number of issues under the SBI, SBSTA, REDD + and other areas. Three main negotiating tracks remain unresolved: the ADP, Climate Finance, and Loss and Damage. Any agreement in Warsaw will revolve around finding compromise on these three issues.
So far, the COP/CMP closing plenary has not yet begun… It will be a late night/early morning!
To add some more drama to the COP 19, news broke today that the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, fired UNFCCC COP 19 President Marcin Korolec from his day job as Poland’s Minister of the Environment. Prime Minister Tusk, in his second term, is reshuffling his cabinet, also firing the Finance Minister from his Cabinet and those heading sports, education, science and administration. The new Minister for the Environment, Maciej Grabowski, was formerly at the Finance Ministry. President Bronislaw Komorowski is expected to approve the cabinet shake-up.
Despite the government shake-up, Korolec will continue his role as UNFCCC COP 19 president. As a reassurance, Prime Minister Tusk issued a statement supporting Korolec’s role as COP president. The change of the guard in the environment ministry is bad timing by the Polish government, as it comes during the UNFCCC negotiations. Additionally, Poland has already held a pro-coal summit this past week and permitted a pro-coal demonstration by a coal miner’s union outside the UNFCCC venue. They fear that they will lose their jobs. However, jobs in the coal-mining industry have fallen by 75% over the past 20 years. Thus, COP 19 highlights Poland at the crossroads- one side wants to be a part of the EU and the international community to find ambition to combat climate change (and reduce carbon emissions) while the other wants to continue business as usual to support a dying industry and support a carbon-intensive industry. The timing of the World Coal Association meeting and the firing of Korolec, the environment minister, undermines the purpose of Poland hosting the UNFCCC COP 19, as they are supposed to lead the way to an agreement on climate change, not undermine one through hypocrisy.
Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 18th session in Doha, Qatar, as a student representative of Vermont Law School. It was my first COP and I learned so much “on the job” that cannot be taught in the classroom. I tracked mostly adaptation issues, including the National Adaptation Plans, CDM Appeals Process and “loss and damage.”
No longer a COP rookie, this year, I am excited to be returning to COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland as a civil society observer. I’ve never been to Poland before, so I am looking forward to meeting new people, enjoying Polish culture, and eating delicious Polish food. On the word side of things, I will continue tracking these same issues. My main focus this year will be tracking “loss and damage,” this work program will deal with many problems associated with climate change, including human rights, climate justice, migration and displacement, and economic harm.
A memorable event from COP 18 in Doha was the impassioned plea by lead Philippines negotiator and Commisioner of Philippines Climate Change Commission, Nadarev “Yep” Saño, for Parties, particularly developed countries, to take action on climate change because it is already happening as evidenced by Typhoon Bopha and Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Saño said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
This year the Philippines has also experienced hearbreak, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded to hit land, just steamrolled through the heart of the Philippines, leaving loss, damage, death and destruction in its wake. Thus, what will happen as States and communities fail to adapt and mitigate to climate change?
In past UNFCCC COPs and meetings, State Parties and observers, international organizations and civil society groups realized that the lack of ambition of parties to mitigate climate change would only increase climate disruption and adverse impacts to climate change. Thus, the need to address adaptation arose, as decided in the Bali Action Plan. However, mitigation and adaptation only tell a part of the climate change story. At some point, States and communities will not be able to adapt to climate change.
So far, the Parties to COP18 decided to consider “approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, as part of the Cancun Adaptation Framework (decision 1/CP.16, paragraphs 25-29). The Parties to the UNFCCC agreed that the Convention will have “the important and fundamental role to enable coherent and synergistic approaches.” These “adverse impacts,” defined in the Cancun Agreements decision 1/CP.16, are slow onset events that include sea level rise, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinization, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and desertification.
Discussions on loss and damage will be focused around three thematic areas: TA1: “Assessing the risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change and current knowledge on the same;” TA 2 “A range of approaches to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including impacts related to extreme weather events and slow onset events, taking into consideration experiences at all levels;” and TA3 “The role of the Convention in enhancing implementation of approaches to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.” Within these thematic areas, negotiators will have to determine a variety of other means on how to deal with adverse impacts to climate change, including risk and disaster management from slow onset and extreme weather events. Additionally, any legal mechanism will have to decide on what are the concepts of “loss,” “damage,” as well as “economic” and “non-economic” losses. Non-ecoomic losses could include issues relating to the rights to culture, right to livelihood, right to identity, right to property, etc. Part of the mechanism will contain financial compensation, which would possibly include climate risk insurance.
At COP19, the international community will have to work together to create a legal mechanism to address loss and damage caused by the adverse impacts caused by climate change. This platform will have to address climate adaptation planning, as well as disaster risk and management (DRR) and human rights in the climate change “loss and damage” context. Whether or not the COP19 outcome decision contains a legal mechanism on loss and damage, the international community will still have to help the most vulnerable communities deal with climate-induced disruption adversely affecting their lives. Importantly, any mechanism on “loss and damage” should include a rights-based approach in order to guarantee the fundamental legal protections.
Please follow me on Twitter at @HeatherCroshaw for real-time updates and comments at #COP19.