OPINION: Chair of Coalition for Rainforest Nations reflects on the state of climate negotiations, and priorities for COP23
Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, Chair of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, lays out priorities for rainforest countries in the coming months’ United Nations climate negotiations.
Rainforests play a significant role in the stabilisation of the global climate and for the livelihoods of millions throughout the planet, providing essential resources such as fresh water, food and medicine. For centuries, tropical rainforests have served as the home of many indigenous peoples and forest communities have long contributed to the preservation of biological diversity and have played a vital carbon sequestration role.
However, rainforests are also very fragile and are under high pressure because of human activities. Tropical rainforests are being cleared for agriculture, logging and mining activities. Global tropical deforestation and degradation are responsible for approximately 15-20% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions each year, making it even more challenging to keep warming below the 1.5-2oC threshold set by the internationally agreed Paris Agreement. Thus, forests must be at the heart of successful global action against climate change. The Paris Agreement recognises the role of forests in Article 5 which encourages Parties “to implement and support policy approaches and positive incentives” for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) in developing countries.
The Paris Agreement also recognises alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches, in forest management as well as the important role of non-carbon benefits.
As country co-chair of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) and as Head of the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country endowed with one of the largest tropical forests in the world, I am committed to achieve demonstrable progress and ensure a positive outcome from the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) session in Bonn, Germany, in May.
While in Bonn, I attended the fourth voluntary meeting on the coordination of support for the implementation of REDD+ activities. This meeting provided an opportunity for international actors and stakeholders to share experiences and to draw perspectives for the future. Although REDD+ has been implementable since the adoption of the REDD+ Warsaw Framework in 2013, this mechanism still lacks the necessary level of large-scale financial and technological support, or capacity building, to aid developing countries in a meaningful way in the design and implementation of interim activities and nation-wide programmes.
Capacity building is crucial in the development of robust measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) and accounting systems.
Indeed, two aspects of MRV are critical for credible REDD+ action: the reliability of data and the cost of collecting such data. From our experience in the DRC we have learned that there are countless ways to define forests, to measure tree cover and to monitor and report on forests. From our standpoint, a country like the DRC, we hope to engage in activities such as capacity building, use of data for the management of our forest and land resources, connecting MRV to land use planning and support to guide investments. Being a forest rich country, our development needs must take into account the forest assets with which we are endowed. MRV practices, compliant with UNFCCC rules and IPCC guidance, help us achieve that goal. The two-pronged goal of credibility and development may lead to additional challenges for developing countries and, therefore, the design may be different. However, options must be explored to fulfil both objectives in ways that are not too onerous but are still economically realistic for a country like the DRC and other developing countries.
We need to be realistic in terms of having accounting systems whose costs are commensurate with the benefit we might reap. The current prices of 5$/tonne of carbon is not sufficient to incentivise the scale of forest protection required, as it does not cover the costs of action. We cannot have a large proportion of the carbon price dedicated to maintaining MRV and accounting structures. Finance is key for effective climate action. In addition to the Green Climate Fund, the private sector must assume a central role to mobilise and scale up finance. It has been said that MRV can help unlock both public and private sector finance. Personally, I doubt MRV alone can achieve this goal. One can have the most sophisticated MRV system but if the policies and efforts they are intended to monitor do not demonstrate a high level of commitment and ambition, no finance will be unlocked. What MRV can provide, once the ambition is set and the investments are made, is confidence that the financial contribution is yielding emission reductions that are socially and environmentally sound, effectively contributing to our common mitigation goals and sustainable in the long run.
During the Bonn session, CfRN also focused on the discussions about the carbon market provision of Article 6 [Editor: Article 6 includes provisions for Parties to co-operate with one another. It allows for market-based cooperation mechanisms in order to make it easier for Parties to meet, and ramp-up, their mitigation targets.] This issue is crucial for the constituencies of our coalition because a market mechanism could enhance climate action driven by forest countries, provided they have adequate support. Therefore, we need clear, common rules with high environmental and social integrity and strong transparency to ensure the proper functioning of such mechanisms. On voluntary cooperation in the use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (Article 6.2.), national greenhouse gas registries and supporting accounting systems will be established to determine and address gaps in the capacity of each country. Such monitoring systems must avoid double counting in order to quantify real measurements. On the Sustainable Development Mechanism (Article 6.4), REDD+ activities should not participate under this article and any further decisions related to REDD+ would prejudice Article 5. More importantly, emission reductions or removals that are not covered by a national monitoring system should not qualify for international transfer.
On the road toward implementation of the Paris Agreement for 2018, this Bonn session provided a better understanding of the positions of all the parties and reinforced CfRN’s priorities for the advancement of REDD+ and enhanced climate action. COP23 will be yet another opportunity to build consensus.
The Coalition for Rainforest Nations will build on the success it achieved with Article 5 of the Paris Agreement and will further advance REDD+ within the UNFCCC and will maintain its fight against global climate change by continuing its work on the meaningful implementation of the REDD+ mechanism in developing countries.
The views expressed and information contained in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of or endorsed by the participant countries of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations or the Coalition for Rainforest Nations Secretariat, The Coalition for Rainforest Nations Secretariat receives no support from Pricewaterhouse Coopers and/or its affiliate the Climate Development Knowledge Network for its advocacy work within the UNFCCC.