Forest Protection Plan Settled at UN Climate Talks

Climate envoys from about 190 nations agreed on a deal that will channel funds to developing countries to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by preventing deforestation.

A decision establishing rules for the mechanism, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD-plus, was approved at a plenary session at United Nations-organized climate talks in Warsaw last night. Nations have been discussing a REDD-plus mechanism since 2005.

Countries have targeted deforestation as a major source of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for causing global warming. Clearing trees to make room for agricultural activity, such as cattle ranching or palm-oil production, is a major source of forest loss, which causes 15 percent of global emissions, according to the WWF environmental group.

“The EU very much welcomes the agreement on REDD+ reached in Warsaw,” Isaac Valero-Ladron, a spokesman for the European Commission, said by e-mail. “The package of decisions, which provides the necessary methodological framework for REDD-plus, represents a major step forward in efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. The decisions largely complete the rulebook for implementing REDD-plus.”

The decisions in Warsaw set out how to measure and verify emissions reductions, requiring developing countries to set up national coordinators to oversee their activities and recommend improvements to the UN, and ensuring that REDD-plus activities don’t harm indigenous populations or their livelihoods.


“The decisions set out the pathway that countries need to follow to access results-based finance, ensure that national focal points administer REDD-plus actions in each country, and establish the relationship between REDD-plus and the Green Climate Fund,” Pipa Elias, a forest policy consultant at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an interview. “It’s very heartening to see this process can actually work.”

The talks had earlier stalled when the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, whose 41 members include Argentina, Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana, tabled a proposal to set up an international advisory body under the authority of the UN. Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea’s ambassador for climate and environment, said the Coalition was happy with the decision.

“For us the challenge was to get a rulebook in place. There are a lot of pledges for finance but not much of it gets delivered,” he said in an interview at the talks on Nov. 22. “We wanted a forum where we could present what we’re doing and focus on how we’re going to finance those things.”

Representatives of the so-called national focal points will meet for the first time in Lima in December and thereafter every summer in Bonn, Germany, Conrad said.

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