After two weeks of wrangling all that came out of COP-15 was the “Copenhagen Accord”. In a press conference on 19 December 2009, a clearly exhausted Yvo de Boer, described the Copenhagen Accord as “an impressive accord”.
Then he listed the problems: it is not legally binding, it doesn’t pin down industrialised countries to targets, it doesn’t specify what major developing countries will do, it mentions US$30 billion funding but says nothing about the responsibility for raising the money. “We have a lot of work to do on the road to Mexico,” de Boer said.
The Copenhagen Accord was not formally adopted by the Conference of Parties, because not all countries agreed to it. Instead, COP-15 “takes note” of the Accord, “giving it no force whatsoever,” as Friends of the Earth pointed out in a press release. First the US trashed the REDD negotiations, then it trashed the whole Copenhagen talks.
Nevertheless, the “Copenhagen Accord” has its fans: “a sound start” (Bob Deans, NRDC), “a step in the right direction” (Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general), “a great step forward” (David Axelrod, Obama’s chief adviser), “the first important steps” (Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund), “a first step” (Carl Pope, Sierra Club). With all these first steps and starts you could be forgiven for thinking that Copenhagen was COP-1, not COP-15. But the UN has been discussing climate change now for 17 years. At this stage, the only step that the Copenhagen Accord takes is over the edge of the abyss.
Of course a REDD deal without an agreement to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels spells disaster for the planet’s forests. That’s what came out of Copenhagen.
REDD is mentioned in the Copenhagen Accord:
6. We recognize the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.
“Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding” is to be provided to “developing” countries, “including substantial finance” for REDD. The Accord explains that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund will be worth US$10 billion a year from 2010-2012. Financing for “forestry” is included in this figure. By 2020, “developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year”. Not surprisingly, carbon markets are one of the ways of raising the finance:
7. We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote mitigation actions.
Towards the end of the Copenhagen meeting, six countries, the US, UK, France, Japan, Australia and Norway, pledged US$3.5 billion over the next three years to kick-start REDD.
During Copenhagen, REDD was discussed in two bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperation Action (AWG-LCA).
The SBSTA produced a draft decision on methodological REDD issues, which was adopted by COP-15.
The LCA draft text on REDD (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/L.7/Add.6) seems to have entered a state of suspended animation on 15 December 2009. This draft is deeply flawed. It includes no mention of targets for stopping deforestation. There are no commitments for long-term finance. Safeguards are weak to the point of non-existent. Leakage is not meaningfully addressed. The principle of free, prior and informed consent by indigenous people is nowhere to be seen.
Indigenous People have been pushing for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be included in the REDD text. The words are in fact in the text. But all the safeguards are carefully tucked away behind the words “promoted” and/or “supported”. To meet the “safeguard”, and therefore qualify for REDD funding, a government can say that it is supporting respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples. Holding a meeting in the capital city and inviting five indigenous representatives would probably qualify. The word “promoted” is even weaker. The word “should” earlier in the sentence provides even more wiggle room.
Astonishingly, the chair of the REDD negotiations, Tony La Viña, described it as, “a good text, especially the scope and the safeguards.” But the “safeguards” in the REDD text amount to little more than a list of positive things that ideally should be done.
If, like Jeff Horowitz, co-founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners, you believe that we must save the forests at all costs and that doing so should allow the pollution in the North to continue, then this is the REDD text you were waiting for. “We can’t tell people to stop driving cars and trucks. But we can stop deforestation,” Horowitz told CNBC. “The value is in the carbon.”
For those who believe in the importance of human rights, indigenous rights, local peoples’ rights and land rights this is the time to withdraw support for REDD. No rights, no REDD.