Thursday, August 21, 2008

Forest Negotiations Underway in Ghana

The Accra Climate Change Talks have begun! They opened with a colourful display of music and dance followed by introductory speeches from dignitgaries. The day closed with a lively cocktail party with much dancing and friendly conversation.

The first day of the talks has also seen a flurry of inputs and discussions about land use, land use change and forestry. It looks like by the end of the week of talks Parties will agree on a more defined set of options for how the rules should change.

Submissions have been made by several countries and a first meeting has been held between the Parties at which Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the Eu made presentations. These formal talks will continue today and Monday, followed by informal (and closed) meetings of the Parties.

So far, the most vocal countries have focused on changing the system so that it provides greater 'incentives' for forest management practices that will mitigate climate change. Translation: they want it to be easier to generate credits as incentive and reward for action. The main problem I see with this focus is that it leads Parties away from a mandatory requirement to reduce emissions in this sector and towards a system where they can only be rewarded for incremental improvements and not punished for status quo emissions.

Here's a summary of what we've heard from Parties so far:

Canada's submission focuses on a proposed methodology to 'factor out' natural effects on carbon fluxes from human-caused effects.

New Zealand's submission is focused on making sure that the rules provide flexibility in land use and don't penalize or provide disincentives for harvesting plantation forests.

Iceland's submission is focused on describing the mitigation potential of wetland restoration and avoided wetland degradation.

Japan's submission is focused on how to retain incentives for forest management through continuity with the current rules.

The EU's submission is an interesting assessment of the variability and uncertainties associated with LULUCF accounting and also an assessment of the result of various options proposed in Bonn.

The Secretariat of the UNFCCC also presented a Technical Report that assessed the implications of the various options identified in Bonn. Interestingly, most of the options assessed would result in an increase in the emissions budget of industrialized Parties with reduction commitments and therefore also an increase in the supply of tradeable credits (which would decrease supply and price, reducing the effectiveness of the carbon market to spurr innovation and greater emission reductions).

The talks can be followed by Live webcast.

No comments: