The 23rd UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) closed on 17 November. Now that two years have passed since the historic milestone of the Paris Agreement at COP 21, what did negotiators work on this year and which parts of it affect the forest sector?
With the Paris Agreement ratified, this year negotiators focused mainly on the nitty gritty details of operationalizing the agreement. While the forestry sector was not focused on in particular, there are many developments that would nonetheless affect forests. Here is a highlight of some of them:
The Paris Rulebook
Many of the detailed rules for operationalizing the Paris Agreement will be fleshed out in the Paris Rulebook, which is planned to be announced at COP 24 in Poland in 2018. It will include details on how parties should communicate their climate efforts, how efforts will be reviewed, and processes to facilitate implementation and compliance.
Call for enhanced ambition
The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit “global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degree”. However, negotiators agreed that present pledges are not sufficient to meet the 1.5 degree limit, and thus parties have been urged to review their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and make their pledges much more ambitious by next year, across multiple sectors. Some NGOs are also calling for the complete phasing-out of fossil fuels.
Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator of the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, also emphasized that wealthier economies must finance additional action in the south in order to complete their fair share of climate action.
Global stocktaking and the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue
At the Paris 2015 COP, economies agreed to hold dialogue to ‘take stock’ of progress on climate action. Outcomes of such dialogue would inform the next round of NDCs in 2020, with the idea to enhance ambition every five years.
The first facilitative dialogue will be held at COP 24, and is called the Talanoa Dialogue, which is a traditional word in Fiji to “reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue”.
COP 23 focused on developing a framework to carry out the Talanoa Dialogue. Greenpeace China Senior Climate and Energy Officer Li Shuo described it as a “check point” to review progress, and explained its intention to send a strong signal to top political leaders to ramp up their NDCs.
Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform
COP 23 operationalized the Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform, to give greater voice to marginalized peoples and local communities, which often include the forest-dependent poor. This initiative aims to empower and include marginalized people in climate change negotiations, and place greater focus on the land-use sector. Nonetheless, reservations remain on the potential of this to create real impact and whether the role is only symbolic.
REDD+ progress also seemed to be rather slow moving, but some organizations remain positive about its potential in reducing emissions of forest carbon, with discussions continuing at high level on pushing the program forward.
Finally, other developments at COP include an announcement by WRI to launch a $2.1 billion fund for private investments in Initiative 20x20, a restoration project in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the launch of the New York Declaration on Forests Global Platform which will help facilitate actions to achieve their ten forest goals.
Reaching the 2 degree limit will take massive effort from parties to continue developing details for operating the Paris Agreement, and strengthening their mitigation and adaptation targets. These efforts include all industries including the land-use sector, and hopefully by the end of 2018 we will see more concrete progress for facilitating climate action in the forestry sector.
About the FPN Blog
The APFNet-led Asia-Pacific Forestry Planning Network (FPN) is an informal knowledge network that aims to strengthen national forestry planning processes in the Asia-Pacific region. The FPN Blog is targeted to network members but policymakers and other forestry practitioners may also find it relevant. For more information, please contact Ms. Anna Finke at firstname.lastname@example.org.