Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Make Forests Count!

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CPAWS launched its Make Forests Count campaign yesterday (makeforestscount.org). The purpose is to build some public momentum behind a global climate agreement in Copenhagen that commits countries to protect forests and close loopholes in accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from forest and land use. Check it out, and make forests count by signing on!

Forest Negotiations Begin at Bangkok Climate Change Talks

The first closed-door session on accounting rules for forests and land use is now underway at Bangkok. There will be six negotiating sessions here over the next couple of weeks. It is widely felt that negotiators will be under pressure to make real progress here - without clear rules for how forest emissions affect the compliance of developed countries with emission reduction commitments, there can be no agreement.

At the opening session yesterday, the Chair of the negotiating process under the Kyoto Protocol cited three main issues of consequence:
  • How emissions from natural disturbances are dealt with;
  • The overall accounting approach for forest management and whether limits need to be placed on what countries can claim;
  • How carbon stored in harvested wood products are dealt with.
I have other questions: will there be a commitment to protecting reservoirs of GHGs in intact forests? Will the new rules make countries accountable or a will they create a new slush fund of credits that suit particular national circumstances?

A few parties have started posting their submissions for this session (Canada, Japan and New Zealand so far). These submissions are starting to be heavier on data, so people can see the possible implications of rule changes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Must Support Nature's Ability to Capture and Store Carbon: UN Report

Nature knows how to capture and store carbon and has been doing so effectively for mellenia. We need this capacity in order to help us resolve the climate crisis we have created. But a recent UNEP report asserts that "Currently the world’s ecosystems, instead of maintaining and enhancing nature’s carbon capture and storage capacity, are being depleted at an alarming rate.”
The report is a handy resource that summarizes the carbon capture and storage capacity of various natural and human-dominated ecosystems. The report is the latest publication to support and call for protection of carbon stores in natural ecosystems as a key climate change strategy.

It also contains a good summary of the current treatment of terrestrial carbon within the Kyoto Protocol and of the trajectory of the current climate negotiations. Quite rightly, the report concludes that it is not yet at all certain that negotiations will lead to the comprehensive treatment that is required to seize the climate change mitigation opportunities presented by ecosystems.

The necessary elements of a solution are becoming increasingly clear to me:
  • An effective REDD mechanism must be put in place;
  • Countries need to affirm their commitment to protect reservoirs of greenhouse gases by agreeing to report their goals and progress to protect natural forests, wetlands and grasslands;
  • Developed countries need to accept accountability for greenhouse gas emissions from forest management and wetland management;
  • Changes in greenhouse gas emissions from forest management and wetland management must be measured against historic levels;