Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Forestry Negotiations in Tianjin China: Rolling towards the abyss!

Day 3 of the Tianjin Climate Talks has already past and the Great Fire Wall of China has kept me from posting before now. This post is being made through a friend back in Canada who kindly offered to help me get the word out.

The proposal to allow developed countries to use 'reference levels' from the future to measure their emissions compliance for logging continues to move forward. As one developing country negotiator described it to me: this thing now has wheels.

Unfortunately this proposal is taking us off a cliff from which environmental integrity in this process may never recover. It still amazes me that government representatives from developed countries that have caused climate change and have made commitments to fix it can say with a straight face that it is good policy to allow them to increase their logging emissions without penalty.

There have been two interesting developments in the last 24 hours. The first is that developed countries put forward a process to have expert technical teams review the proposed reference levels. It looks okay as far as technical review goes but all it will really demonstrate is whether countries have done a good job proposing bad reference levels.

The other development was that there was an open session today to discuss an alternative to the reference level approach. The island nation of Tuvalu described its proposal to use emissions/removals from forest management in the first commitment period (2008-2012) as the basis for measuring increases or decreases in the second commitment period. Tuvalu and Belarus both made clear and compelling arguments for why a historical baseline is the only reliable basis for demonstrating whether we are actually moving towards our target of emission reductions. The European Union, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea were the principle defenders of the flawed 'projected reference level' approach.

At the request of Tuvalu, the co-chairs of the session opened the floor to comments from civil society and I was able to make an intervention. I recorded it low-tech style on my iPhone. Picture me in a room full of negotiators in a conference centre that looks like it was designed for giants!

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