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$100 Million to End Deforestation in Colombia

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$100 Million to End Deforestation in Colombia

As promised in Lima in 2014, the REDD Early Movers program officially expanded to Colombia this year, with Germany, Norway, and (soon to join) the UK signing a more than $100 million agreement to pay the tropical forest country for reducing deforestation.

This article was originally published on our parent site, Ecosystem Marketplace. Read the original here.  

From left: President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia; Kate Hughes, Deputy Director for International Policy and Finance, DECC, UK; Per-Frederik Pharo, Director of Norway´s International Climate and Forest Initiative; Stephan Opitz, Member of the Management Committee, KfW Development Bank; Garbiel Vallejo, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia; Alejandro Gamboa, APC-Colombia (Presidential Agency for International Cooperation); and Alberto Galán, Director, Fondo Patrimonio Natural, Colombia. |Photo by Clement Batifoulier, Linka-International

From left: President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia; Kate Hughes, Deputy Director for International Policy and Finance, DECC, UK; Per-Frederik Pharo, Director of Norway´s International Climate and Forest Initiative; Stephan Opitz, Member of the Management Committee, KfW Development Bank; Garbiel Vallejo, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia; Alejandro Gamboa, APC-Colombia (Presidential Agency for International Cooperation); and Alberto Galán, Director, Fondo Patrimonio Natural, Colombia. |Photo by Clement Batifoulier, Linka-International

The signing marks the official expansion of the REDD Early Movers (REM) program to Colombia after the partnership was first announced at the 20th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru last year. A key tenant of REM is that it is a payment-for-performance agreement, meaning that Colombia must achieve and verify the emissions reductions associated with avoided deforestation in order to receive the funding.

“Rather than supporting countries only in actions that lead to results, finance rewards countries for achieving results and therefore incentivizes and provides resources for more of such actions,” according to the press release about the agreement (emphasis theirs). “The REM Programme has been created as a bridge mechanism to enable countries to earn results-based finance until results-based payments for REDD+ under the UNFCCC begin fully operating.”

REM rewards emissions reductions, measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), at a value of $5 per tonne, according to a summary of the agreement. Theoretically, this would mean that the funder countries would pay for up to 20 MtCO2e, the equivalent of the emissions that about five coal-fired power plants spew into the atmosphere over a year. The number of tonnes, however, is dependent on exchange rate fluctuations and ultimately the commitment is counted in financial volume and not in tCO2e.

The emissions reductions must be verified by an independent third party, with a verification of Colombia’s 2013-2014 emissions reductions to be commissioned early in 2016. Once verified, the emissions reductions will then be recorded on a mandatory registry system, which Colombia will develop in the coming months. Though REM requires that the carbon registry include “transaction” functions, the emissions reductions will not be traded as carbon “offsets” or used for compliance purposes by the developed countries providing the money.

Colombia, however, “may report them to the UNFCCC as a voluntary national effort for climate change mitigation,” the summary reads. Colombia’s national climate plan, submitted to the UNFCCC in September, sets a target of reducing emissions 20% under its business-as-usual scenario by 2030, but it said it could increase its ambition to a 30% emissions cut “with the provision of international support.”

The avoided emissions are calculated based on measured changes in forest cover (or lack thereof) in the Amazon against a reference level submitted to the UNFCCC. Colombia is one of a handful of countries to date to submit such a deforestation reference level, which averaged 82,883 hectares annually between 2000 and 2012. Using satellite imagery and field data for different forest types, Colombia determined that an estimated 566 tCO2e is released into the atmosphere with every hectare deforested.

The country’s 45 million hectares of tropical rainforest are incredibly biodiverse, hosting a quarter of the world’s terrestrial species and a human population of 1.2 million. Following decades of armed conflict that forced many forest-dwelling villagers to flee to cities, some internally displaced people are now moving home. An emerging peace deal between the Juan Manuel Santos government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as “Farc”) means that Colombia may usher in a new era of development – with some possible unintended side effects.

“It is clear that a sociopolitical scenario of the end of the armed conflict can stimulate accelerated deforestation as it creates greater investor confidence and allows entry to areas formerly inaccessible by the conflict,” Colombia’s deforestation reference level document explains.

Current drivers of deforestation include cattle ranching above all but also mining, oil and gas exploration, and agricultural expansion, with a mix of legal and illicit activities. The REM agreement specifies that at least 60% of funds must go to benefit local actors through the development of sustainable agriculture – in particular beef, dairy, cocoa, and rubber – as well as improved forest governance, particularly in indigenous territories.

“With the REM Programme, we are taking an important step to support the construction of the Amazon Vision, whose main objective is to significantly reduce deforestation, halt the accelerated transformation of this strategic region, benefit local communities and contribute to the wellbeing of indigenous peoples, who have allowed through their traditional practices, the conservation of much of the Amazon rainforest,” Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Gabriel Vallejo said in a statement.

The contract with Colombia is the third in a series of REM agreements signed over the last few years. In the first agreement signed in 2012, KfW offered $40 million to the state of Acre, Brazil to deliver 8 million tCO2e between 2013 and 2016. In 2014 the program expanded to Ecuador, with Germany and Norway together paying the small rainforest nation $50 million for up to 10 MtCO2e.

This third agreement with Colombia is the first to include the UK, and it’s also the first to aim for zero net deforestation in the Colombian Amazon. The announcement about the agreement does not include a definition of zero net deforestation, but a common one “acknowledges that some forest loss could be offset by forest restoration.”

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Norway, Germany, UK Pledge $5 Billion to Combat Tropical Deforestation

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Norway, Germany, UK Pledge $5 Billion to Combat Tropical Deforestation

The first full day of the climate talks in Paris included a major announcement when Norway, Germany and the UK jointly pledged $5 billion to reducing deforestation in tropical forest countries over the next five years.

At a press event today, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom entered into a joint agreement pledging US $5 billion to reduce carbon emissions caused by tropical deforestation, known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) under the UNFCCC. The countries intend to shell out around $800 million per year starting in 2015, with finance reaching $1 billion per year by 2020.

From left are Indonesian president Joko Widodo, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solbergof, UN special envoy on climate change and former Irish president Mary Robinson, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, and Gabonese president Ali Bongo.

From left are Indonesian president Joko Widodo, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solbergof, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and former Irish president Mary Robinson, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, and Gabonese president Ali Bongo. | Photo by Steve Zwick

“We’re here to witness an extraordinary and diverse group of world leaders affirm their political will for strong, collective and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forests through partnerships that put people right at the heart of action on climate change,” Mary Robinson, the UN’s Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, said during a press event at the COP.

[Click here for analysis from Forest Trends’ Gustavo Silva-Chavez]

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Indonesia to Reconsider Climate Action Plan, May Revive REDD

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Indonesia to Reconsider Climate Action Plan, May Revive REDD

Indonesia surprised the environmental community earlier this year when its climate action plan shifted away from saving forests and towards ramping up clean energy. But then its forests started burning, and now in Paris there are signs that forests and ecosystem restoration will play a larger role in the country’s climate strategy.

Last week, a high-ranking official with Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry told Ecosystem Marketplace that the country was already re-evaluating its climate plan, or “Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution” (INDC), but that any official revision will not emerge until after the talks here conclude two weeks from now.

“We are assessing whether we need to reevaluate [our INDC], due to recent land and forest fires,” said Sarwono Kusumaatmaja, chair of climate change steering committee, an ad-hoc body set up by the ministry for the Paris climate talks. “[The INDC] is still not completed. If it needs to be reevaluated, then we will do so. If not, then we will provide explanations. But, it will not clear before the aggregation result [from the UNFCCC] announced. If it’s announced, then we will check our standing point again.”

The Shift from Forests to Factories

The current INDC showed a drastic shift from land use change to energy issues as it was predicted that with increasing population, demands would also be rising. The previous commitment had focused primarily on forests and land use, which generate more than 80 percent of Indonesia’s total greenhouse-gas emissions.

Henriette Imelda, a researcher of Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), a think tank which monitored the INDC process, said that there was a sense of rush in making the draft and its final document.

“The ministry had just inaugurated its first echelons only a few months before the deadline,” she said. “So, it was pretty much a complicated internal situation at that time.”

But she also argued that the country had more than enough resources to do the job right.

“Bappenas [Indonesia’s development planning agency] already came out with a model that could explain emissions level by 2030 in perfect detail,” she said. “It also included thorough explanations on power generation, transportation, even reducing fossil fuel subsidies. They also put out the baseline, timeframe and financing sources. But, I don’t understand why it didn’t make it into the INDC.”

She added that Indonesia previously enjoyed a positive image in climate-change negotiations as the first developing nation to announce voluntary emission cut targets back in 2009.

“Then, we submitted this plan,” she said. “The image will surely be discarded.”

INDC Under Attack

The INDC has been roundly criticized, both from inside and outside the country.

“It could not even explain how they came up with 29 percent [reduction target],” said Henriette, contrasting her own country’s INDC with that of South Africa, which at least provided rationale for its projections. “Yes, an INDC cannot be hundreds of pages, but at least you refer it to something or gives an official link.”

Sarwono, however, defended INDC, and told Ecosystem Marketplace that it’s not meant to be a stand-alone document.

“It is both a comprehensive and a general document,” she said. “If we want to be specific, then we can include policy briefs on REDD or financial mechanisms, for instance. The INDC was not designed to convey all the specifics. If the President goes to Paris and make a speech [on emissions], it is also and INDC. It’s an open document for review depending on political decision.”

REDD stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”, and is a financing mechanism designed to slow deforestation. The government of Norway has pledged $1 billion to help Indonesia develop a REDD program, but that program has been on ice since the end of last year.

Peatlands Management to Reduce Indonesia’s Emissions

Only a few weeks after the INDC submission, forest fires erupted in Palembang, South Sumatra, followed by Jambi and Riau provinces.

Affected by El Nino, which carries dry weather, thick haze resulted from Sumatran fires begun to spread to neighboring countries, especially Singapore. It did not take long for forest fires to occur in Kalimantan and Papua islands. It took some time for the government to acknowledge that most of those fires were coming from poor land use change management, especially peatlands which are hard to put out once they are on fire.

“Last year, from December to February, the government had implemented programs [to prevent land and forest fires] in Riau and West Kalimantan provinces. The results were visible. However, we missed out other regions as there is the factor of central and regional administrations interaction” said Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

President Jokowi responded with a moratorium on permits for peatland clearing, as well as an injunction against clearing even for those who have a permit.

“While waiting for government regulation [on peatland management], we already gave instructions related to President’s decision, on early November,” said Minister Siti. “It is clear that no more permits on peatlands. It is a total ban. It means that those already obtained permits they are not allowed to do new land clearing. If they already cleared peats, there will be an assessment. If it’s categorized as protected areas, then it will be closed. If it’s categorized for production areas, then they must apply for technology for hydrology.”

Apart from the regulation, she said the government has been pursuing legal actions, applying rehabilitation programs, and considering ecosystem restoration model as part of strategies to prevent land and forest fires.

“We will have to wait for March [which is predicted to be the early dry season] to determine its being a success or a failure to prevent land and forest fires,” she said.

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