Bonn Climate Talks Make Progress, REDD+ Is the Big Winner in June 2015

Climate negotiators meeting in Bonn, Germany, during the past 2 weeks made significant progress for a global deal in Paris later this year. Special meetings focusing on the draft of an overall global climate deal were added to the usual June agenda of scientific and technical issues. Although progress on REDD+ was expected to be minimal, country negotiators reached a surprise agreement on a REDD+ mechanism under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The Bonn meetings resulted in a shorter overall negotiation text that is better structured, is comprehensive, and has the support of all countries. In a surprise decision, the three remaining forest protection issues under discussion in the technical committee on REDD+ were agreed to. REDD+ showed once again that compromise in the UN is possible, and REDD+ is poised to be a pillar of mitigation and finance in the Paris global deal,” said Gus Silva-Chávez, climate policy expert with Forest Trends.

The main objective of the Bonn meeting June 1-11 had been to “streamline”, or shorten the February version of the negotiation text that was almost 100 pages. After two weeks of productive negotiations, the text is now shorter, has a more sound architecture, and is a more manageable document that will continue to be modified so it can be ready for an actual negotiation. The next big decision will be to try separating out the issues that should go into the core Paris agreement and those that need to be discussed in more detail and can be decided on by at a later date. There are at least two more negotiation sessions before Paris to continue to improve the text and have it ready for Ministers and Heads of State. Tough choices are on the horizon but, once again, REDD+ showed compromise is possible when all countries work together with each other and with stakeholders.

The REDD+ decision closed out the three outstanding issues under discussion in the technical committee.

1. On safeguards, countries agreed thatfurther guidance is needed. Safeguards in the UNFCCC context are meant to prevent and mitigate undue harm from REDD+ activities. In the compromise agreement, safeguards have to be clearly communicated, with higher financing tied to higher standards for protection.

2. Non-market-based approaches, originally introduced by Bolivia. Bolivia’s Joint Mitigation and Adaptation proposal (JMA), would not allow the use of carbon markets. But the decision in Bonn allows all sources of funding, including carbon markets, to be available, and countries are free to choose the source of finance that they want.

3. Methodological issues related to non-carbon benefits (NCBs). The compromise agreement provides “guidance”, but not “methodological guidance,” and allows countries to receive payments for NCBs if they can find funding to support them.