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G8’s hot air on climate and REDD

G8's hot air on climate and REDD

On 8 July 2009, the G8 issued a statement titled “Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future“. It includes a section on REDD, reproduced below. Indigenous peoples are referred to in the statement.

G8 will “promote national strategies developed in collaboration with relevant players, including governments, indigenous peoples and local communities, civil society groups and the private sector”. But it’s hardly worth worrying about what the G8 says. Few, apart from Bob Geldoff and Bono, thought that the G8 Gleneagles deal would really make poverty history. The G8 meeting in Heiligendamm was supposed to be a “breakthrough in climate protection”. It wasn’t.

Now, the Financial Times reports that “The Group of Eight industrialised countries have agreed to more stringent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than ever before,” with a target for emission reductions of “80 per cent by 2050 for developed countries”. This is, unfortunately, very selective reporting. What the statement actually says is that G8 supports “a goal of developed countries reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in aggregate by 80% or more by 2050 compared to 1990 or more recent years.” The last four words, “or more recent years”, make the target of 80% utterly meaningless. In any case, agreeing targets for 2050 is very easy for any government to do. They will be long gone by 2050, which is about 10 electoral cycles in the future. “It’s as easy as agreeing to, well, putting a chain of fully equipped, 5-star tourist resorts on Mars by 2050,” as Tadzio Müller comments.

G8 states that it will “Promoting the role of markets to reduce emissions”. You’ve got to wonder whether there was something in the water in L’Aquila, the Italian town that hosted the G8 meetings this year. “We support flexible, economically sound market-based approaches to emission reductions. In particular, cap & trade schemes, where implemented, have proved largely successful and improved understanding of the potential advantages, critical issues and indicators,” G8 states. Note that the G8 statement does not claim that emissions trading reduces emissions. That’s because it doesn’t. The EU emissions trading scheme is the largest in the world. Surely, EU countries must be on target to meet the pathetically low emissions reductions agreed in Kyoto in 1997? If they are, it’s not because of emissions trading. Before the economic crisis lowered emissions, most EU countries were failing to meet their Kyoto targets (and some of those that were on target, like the UK, achieved this only by outsourcing their emissions).

This, then, is the context, for G8’s comments on REDD: no meaningful targets, no mechanism for massively reducing the use of fossil fuels and a blind faith in the market.

Forests and land degradation

78. Aware that deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of annual CO2 emissions, and that forests are an essential repository of biological diversity and key to the livelihoods and rights of many people, we remain engaged in seeking the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and in further promoting sustainable forest management globally. We will:

a) support the development of positive incentives in particular for developing countries to promote emission reductions through actions to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. Considering that these measures will provide tangible results only in the medium term, it is also crucial to undertake early action initiatives to urgently tackle drivers of deforestation, and we will cooperate to identify innovative instruments in this respect, including through initiatives such as UN programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the Informal Working Group on Interim Finance for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (IWG-IFR);

b) continue to support efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, including the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, as set out in the Bali Action Plan. We continue to support REDD and will consider the inclusion of financial mechanisms within the future global agreement on climate change;

c) encourage cooperation and the use of synergies between the UNFCCC and other international forest-related processes, and promote national strategies developed in collaboration with relevant players, including governments, indigenous peoples and local communities, civil society groups and the private sector;

d) enhance cooperation with partner countries to combat illegal logging and trade in illegally-harvested timber, in accordance with our obligations under international agreements and building on our previous commitments and actions, including those under the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) processes. We reaffirm our intention to promote transparent timber markets and trade in legal and sustainably produced timber. In that regard, we will follow up, where appropriate, with concrete actions on the preliminary list of options presented in 2008 by the G8 Forest Experts Report on Illegal Logging;

e) reinforce international cooperation and information sharing for sustainable forest management, including use of forest resources, prevention and management of forest fires and monitoring of pests and diseases.

79. We are deeply concerned about desertification and land degradation in drylands, as both causes and consequences of climate change. Acknowledging the substantial impacts of these phenomena on human well-being, poverty, food security and the environment, we recognise the efforts of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and call upon the Parties and existing funding mechanisms to strengthen synergies among the Rio Conventions in the implementation of selected projects. Furthermore, we will work with developing country partners to integrate effective Sustainable Land Management (SLM) into relevant cooperation programmes and assist them in integrating SLM into national development plans policies and national climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

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  1. A colleague points out that it may not be only hot air coming from the G8. At least one part of what G8 has to say on REDD this is worth watching: the Informal Working Group on Interim Finance for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (IWGIFR). The Group was initially set up by Prince Charles in April 2009 and will be holding its second meeting in August 2009.

    Second Meeting of IWGIFR
    Paris Thursday 06th of August 2009
    On August 6, Iddri will host the second meeting of the Informal Working Group on Interim Finance for REDD (IWG IFR), together with Agence française de développement and the Norwegian government initiative on forests and climate.

    This working group was established at the request of heads of States who met on the margins of the G20 summit in London in April 09 at an event convened by Prince of Wales. The working group aims at delivering recommendations in the areas of financial needs, fund raising mechanisms, delivery architecture, and relationship with on-going negotiations under UNFCCC.

    IWGIFR initiated its work programme during a meeting in Oslo on May 14 and is pursuing it by electronomic means. Iddri is commited from the beginning, mainly through Ciryl Loisel’s participation.

    Over the August 6 meeting (by invitation only), a draft report will be examined with a view to present the outcome at the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York City in September and at the World Bank Annual Meeting in Istanbul in October.