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Accra Caucus warns of REDD greenwash in Copenhagen

Another week, another series of UN climate talks. This time in Barcelona. This is the last week of negotiations before COP-15 in Copenhagen. Perhaps not surprisingly, things are not looking good. Rich countries ground the negotiations to a halt by refusing to agree to targets under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

At one point, African negotiators walked out refusing to discuss any other issues (including REDD) until rich countries agreed deep cuts in emissions. In support, civil society organisations set up an impromptu human shield against the killing of Kyoto targets and demanded at least 40% emission reductions with no offsets by 2020.

Some rich countries are pushing the myth that the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and that a new deal must be agreed in Copenhagen. “Our end goal is an internationally legally binding treaty for when the Kyoto treaty comes to an end in 2012,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told Reuters on 2 November 2009. But the Kyoto Protocol does not come to an end in 2012. Developed countries have a legal requirement to reduce their emissions under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

There is a serious risk that no deal will come out of Copenhagen. There is a more serious risk that a bad deal will come out of Copenhagen. In either case, REDD might be used as a fig leaf: covering the rich countries lack of targets, but giving the appearance of “doing something” to address climate change.

In its most recent press release, the Accra Caucus, a group of representatives from civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations, warns of the danger of REDD being used to greenwash a bad deal in Copenhagen:

Deal to save forests in danger as rich countries stall on targets and financing

PRESS RELEASE, 5 November 2009
BARCELONA – Negotiations on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in Barcelona, a month before the crucial Copenhagen meeting, are not showing progress needed to reach an agreement. This reflects a wider lack of progress that has dogged these talks, as industrialised countries have failed to match their rhetoric with positive actions on agreeing the necessary cuts in emissions and providing adequate financing for developing countries.
With the prospects for a legally-binding agreement in Copenhagen fading there is concern that REDD might be agreed under a separate decision to try to salvage the failed negotiations.
“A REDD deal on forests might end up as a greenwashing exercise if there is no legally-binding climate change agreement at Copenhagen,” said Nathaniel Dyer of Rainforest Foundation UK. “Runaway climate change will devastate tropical forests and forest-dependent peoples even if a separate decision on REDD is reached.”
Forest protection must, according to scientific advice, be in addition to deep emissions cuts in rich countries, and not a substitute for it, but many want to use REDD as a mechanism to offset their emissions and further weaken emissions targets.
“We cannot allow a bad REDD deal to be a loophole that sabotages a genuine solution to climate change. Industrialised countries have a historical responsibility for human-induced climate change and a REDD deal will not work without commitments from these countries to reduce their domestic emissions by at least 40%,” said Alejandro Alemán of Centro Humboldt, Nicaragua.
The latest negotiating text on REDD includes serious risks that financing intended to keep forests standing would lead to violations of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights, especially to land, and would fail to protect intact natural forests. Members of the Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change explained their deep concerns.
“We need a common set of safeguards for REDD projects and only a global deal can deliver that,” said Adrien Sinafasi of Dignité Pygmée, Democratic Republic of Congo, “every day we hear of new private-sector and bilateral REDD projects but there is no sense in protecting the forest in one small area if deforestation will just shift to another region or country.”
Over 60 million people worldwide live in forests and rely on them for their daily needs. “Any REDD deal needs to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, especially their rights to territories, land, natural resources, and free, prior and informed consent as set out in UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). We can be part of the solution to ending deforestation and tacking climate change but only if our rights are respected. In these processes there should be full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities,” said Juan Reátegui Silva of AIDESEP, Perú.
“The great hope of REDD is in danger,” said Bhola Bhattarai of the Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN), “we need to see clear financing for protecting natural forest and small-scale community-managed forests rather than industrial-scale logging which is anything but sustainable. Despite the rhetoric of political leaders all I’m hearing in the real negotiations is ‘no we can’t’.”
CONTACT: Nathaniel Dyer, Rainforest Foundation UK

The Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change is a group of representatives from civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations from nearly 30 countries who have been following the REDD negotiations in the UNFCCC since August 2008 in Accra, Ghana.  


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