REDD negotiations in the UN climate negotiations in Doha have ground to a halt. The sticking point was the verification of emission reductions from forests.
During long negotiations at the end of last week (Friday’s negotiations finished at 4:30am, followed by an all day session on Saturday), rich countries pushed for results-based actions to be “verified through an independent, international verification process, undertaken by experts drawn from the roster of experts”. Tropical countries argued that verification should be carried out domestically.
After the negotiations had broken down, the chief negotiator for Brazil, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, told Point Carbon that,
“No developing country will have international verification of its actions, especially those that will be national policies.”
Rich countries meanwhile insist that verification is crucial. Henrik Harboe, Norway’s chief negotiator told Point Carbon that,
“We are willing to pay as long as we can be sure that we are paying for actual emission reductions. Donor countries need credible figures as a basis for asking their parliaments for money for this.”
NGO reactions to the breakdown in negotiations varied. The Tropical Forest Group’s Culley Thomas, posting at 5:10 on Saturday morning blaming Brazil:
“Donor nations sent the signal loud and clear that finance to save forests would require verification. Catastrophically for our planet, Brazil refused to listen.”
Bruce Cabarle of WWF-US described it as a “colossal breakdown in communications.”
“If the issue of verification was going to be so important to the Norwegians, I think the message was not received beforehand by the developing countries. All the good work was held hostage over these two issues.”
A couple of days later (and presumably after a few hours of sleep), the Tropical Forest Group seems to have calmed down somewhat:
“Both sides have legitimate positions. Donor nations want robust verification to ensure that the funds they provide result in real protection. The G77 nations do not see why they should commit to strong external verification requirements when the donor nations themselves are major greenhouse gas emitters and are not yet subject to similarly stringent verification.”
Meanwhile, FERN’s Kate Dooley blames the North:
“Rich countries are shirking any of their responsibilities to provide financial support and are placing increasingly onerous requirements on developing countries regarding [measurement, reporting and verification].”
Raja Jarrah of CARE International echoes FERN’s view:
“By insisting that forest emissions have to be ‘verified’ before pledging money for reducing deforestation, it seems that rich countries are holding forested countries hostage, and effectively saying: ‘allow us to use your forests to offset our own pollution in the future, or we won’t give you any money to protect them.’”
During CIFOR’s Forest Day 6, Tony La Viña, one of the facilitators of the REDD negotiations, said that,
“The honeymoon period is over for REDD+, we are down to the nuts and bolts of the mechanism. The things that matter most on the ground: verification, how payments will be made, the inclusions of non-carbon benefits, the implementation of safeguards … continue to discussions.”
If there is no breakthrough on verification in Doha, it will be discussed at the next SBSTA meeting in Bonn, in June 2013. The COP President could take up the unresolved issues in the SBSTA text, if he thinks that a ministerial level discussion might lead to compromise. “We don’t consider it likely there will be an agreement on this here,” Norway’s Harboe told Point Carbon. That would mean that no decision on MRV (and the other SBSTA REDD issues – forest monitoring systems, reference levels, safeguards information systems and drivers of deforestation and forest degradation) could be agreed until the next COP, in 12 months time.
PHOTO credit: Green Africa Directory.