12 December 2007

Consensus reached at climate change meet

Aman Sethi Priscilla Jebaraj

Adaptation Fund and REDD designed to help developing countries deal with reduction of emission

The Kyoto Protocol celebrated its tenth birthday, with speeches, cakes, candles and a party in Bali on Tuesday. — Photo: Priscilla Jebaraj
NUSA DUA (BALI): As negotiations at the U.N. Climate Change conference gathered critical momentum ahead of ministerial talks on Wednesday, delegates claimed to have arrived at a consensus on two major issues: the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD), and the stewardship of the Adaptation Fund designed to help developing countries deal with impact of climate change.

“Mitigation is finally beginning to pay for adaptation,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, adding that donors would be able to put their adaptation money within the Convention framework, rather than outside it.

“Critical outcome”

Flagged as a “critical outcome” at the beginning of the conference, the resolution on the Adaptation Fund marked the first real progress on the so-called Bali Roadmap. Valued currently at $67 million, the Fund is financed by a two per cent levy on transactions on the Clean Development Mechanism as charted out by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, and is expected to be worth about $5 billion by the end of the first period of commitments in 2012. However, disbursement of the Fund’s resources had been stalled over quarrels regarding its administration.

A major point of contention was the “one country-one vote” that developing countries felt would not be reflected if the Fund was managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) — an international financial body supported by the World Bank.

As per the resolution, the Fund will be administered by its own Board, which will have 16 members from parties to the Kyoto Protocol, with two representatives from each of the five U.N. regional groups, one each from the Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing states, and two each from the industrialised and developing nations as defined by the Protocol itself.

Secretariat services will be provided by the GEF, while the World Bank will serve as the Fund’s trustee. India and other developing countries successfully argued that these appointments be made on an interim basis, with the agreement to review them in three years’ time.

A resolution of the contact group on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries marked the second major success of the day amidst furious diplomatic wrangling between the Indian and Brazilian delegations.

In spite of being considered to be the source of 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation has consistently evaded resolution due to the seemingly intractable concerns of various countries. The basic idea behind the REDD framework is to provide countries with resources to combat deforestation and thereby limit its impact on climate change. The Indian stand point has consistently favoured a system of incentivised “conservation,” where developing countries are essentially paid to preserve their forests and, if talks progress, open up the forestry sector to trade on the carbon markets.

Brazil claims mandate

This position, however, has been bitterly contested by Brazil.

“We had a clear mandate to reduce emissions from deforestation,” said Thelma Krug, a senior official of the Brazilian delegation, “We are very big on conservation but it is not on this agenda.”

The Indian delegation, by contrast has issued a press release supporting “the proposal for moving ahead with the concept of conservation, and increase in forest cover under REDD.”

Earlier in the day, the World Bank announced its own Forest Carbon Partnership under the UN framework to provide developing countries with financial incentives to protect and replant their forests.

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