Strong agreement to protect forests highlight of UN climate talks

Countries leave Warsaw with REDD+ package but little else to show for long hours of negotiations

November 23, 2013
Contact: 
Jennifer Andreassen, +1-202-572-3387, jandreassen@edf.org

(WARSAW – Nov. 23, 2013)  Against the backdrop of UN climate talks that made little tangible progress on a number of key issues, a bright spot of the negotiations was a comprehensive agreement on policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), said U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

“The Warsaw Framework sets down deep roots for REDD+, and sends a clear signal that REDD+ will continue to be a crucial tool for conserving forests and protecting the climate,” said Nathaniel Keohane, EDF’s Vice President for International Climate. “We can’t solve climate change without saving our forests – and this agreement ensures that protecting forests and the people who depend on them will be an important part of the toolbox for climate action.”

The REDD+ approach creates economic incentives to reward countries and jurisdictions that reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation below rigorously defined baselines. The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ Action, as the agreement was dubbed, ensures a rigorous, transparent framework for measuring emissions reductions from reduced deforestation; affirms that financial flows will be tied to demonstrated results; and creates a structure for forest nations to share views on the effectiveness of REDD+ implementation. Together, this comprehensive package of decisions provides a structure for countries to develop REDD+ programs at a national level, and take advantage of the approximately $700 million per year already pledged for REDD+ program preparation and to pilot results-based payments.

Outside of the agreement on forests, countries failed to make significant progress. Behind closed doors, nations put on the table some useful options for ensuring the integrity of both market and non-market approaches to reduce emissions. But governments were unable to reach consensus on this or other issues, like how to generate more finance to help poorer countries cope with climate disasters and shift to low-carbon development.

“This was always going to be a meeting focused on laying the groundwork for a 2015 agreement, with more likelihood of headaches than headlines. Even so, negotiators have left themselves a lot to do over the next two years in order to reach a meaningful outcome in Paris,” Keohane said.

Outside the negotiating rooms, numerous side events showcased climate action by countries, subnational jurisdictions, and non-state actors around the world, through forums such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce short-lived climate “superpollutants” such as methane, black carbon, and HFCs. Such initiatives are expected to be the focus of the Climate Summit that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will hold in September 2014 in New York.

“Countries and other actors don’t need to wait for an international agreement in 2015,” said Keohane. "With the damaging impacts of climate change already apparent in the United States and around the world, the world urgently needs near-term action to turn the corner on global emissions and put us on a downward trajectory toward climate safety.”

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