Protection of the carbon sinks:
Concerning the protection of the carbon sinks, the negotiations deal with two different mechanisms: LULUCF and REDD.
LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) is the mechanism that takes into consideration the absorption of CO2 made by the forests (and other sinks such as wetlands) of the developed countries. The level of absorption is then counted into the emission reductions of the individual Annex 1 parties.
This mechanism consequently measures a natural effect of the forests: the capture of CO2. However, this is a really complex tool that unfortunately can be used to hide the emissions of a country. Considering some calculations made by NGOs, bad rules on LULUCF could annually hide about 400Mt of CO2 (the annual emissions of Spain)…!
The negotiations of Cancun did not allow the delegates to find an agreement on this issue. The five different options for the rules of LULUCF are still on the table and will be discussed again next year. In other words, the crusade against the loopholes and the cheating is not done yet…
The other mechanism is called REDD+ (Reduction of the Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). REDD+ only concerns the developing countries and more especially the ones with substantial forest covers (read rain forests).
This REDD+ mechanism is one of the most advanced issues of the negotiations. Countries like Norway have already given some billions of dollars to Brazil and Indonesia. Therefore these countries were obviously looking for a quick implementation of REDD.
For the NGO community, the goal of Cancun was to ensure that the text included a list of safeguards, notably to protect the rights of the indigenous people and to prevent the use of the carbon market in the REDD mechanism (basically the goal is to avoid that parties or companies sell carbon credits given by the REDD mechanism on the carbon market).
For the first goal related to the safeguards, the parties defined a comprehensive list of safeguards contained in the Annex I of the COP decision. This list takes into account the rights of indigenous peoples.
Considering the second issue (the market), it seems that no agreement was found. However, the decision specifies that the support has to be “adequate and predictable”.…
Can the carbon market be “adequate and predictable”? I don’t think so. But the parties will have to work on the issue of channels for supporting REDD+ and propose some solutions at the next Conference of the Parties.
The forest protection glass in not empty, but not full either. We avoided a catastrophe in Cancun and the parties showed some good will on this issue. That is promising considering that deforestation counts for about 18% of the global emissions!
The transfer of technology from the developed to the developing countries is one of the almost good news from the Conference of Cancun.
The parties agreed on setting up a Technology Executive Committee, which main task will be to analyse and provide an overview of the technological needs. Secondly, the parties agreed on establishing a Climate Technology Centre and Network, which should help the developing countries to deploy the existing technologies and to identify the technology needs at the national and regional level.
The bad news of this outcome concerning technology transfer is the fact that the parties have decided not to negotiate on the issue of intellectual property rights (IPR). In the previous texts of negotiations, a workshop or a working group gathering developed and developing countries would have to come with some proposals solving the question of IPRs, but it seems that in the last version of the text, this issue has be totally forgotten (This was one of the points that Bolivia highlighted in the last hours of the conference).
We thought that 2009, ending with the conference of Copenhagen, was the most important year for the climate negotiations. But it seems that we were wrong. Considering the agreements of Cancun, the year of 2011 is going to be extremely hectic and difficult for the delegates.
If our negotiators were construction workers building a house, they would have built the four main walls in Cancun. However, they are still looking for the roof, the furniture and the walls between the different rooms.
Thus, in Durban (South Africa) for the COP17, the delegates will have to show their talents as architect if they want to avoid the real crash in the negotiations. Without an agreement in Durban, the process of international negotiations under the United Nations will probably die with the Kyoto protocol and the other commitments made by the parties in Cancun…