in Poland

“Forests cannot be treated as an offset.” The Climate, Land, Ambition and Rights Alliance responds to the Katowice Declaration on Forests for the Climate

Yesterday, REDD-Monitor wrote about the Katowice Declaration on Forests for the Climate. The final version of declaration was released shortly after REDD-Monitor’s post. There were significant changes, but the Declaration remains bullshit.

Yesterday, I pointed out that unless the Declaration is changed to include the fact that to address climate change we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground, starting now, it will remain a dangerous distraction.

You can read the final version of the Ministerial Katowice Declaration on Forests for the Climate, here.

Below is the final version with the changes since the September 2018 leaked draft version marked: New text is coloured red and deleted text is crossed out.

The final version acknowledges that governments aim to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible”, but no mechanism is suggested for achieving this. And the Declaration does not rule out offsetting continued emissions against the carbon stored in forests. On the contrary, REDD is specifically mentioned in the Declaration.

Yesterday, the Climate, Land, Ambition and Rights Alliance (CLARA) held a side event in Katowice. Peter Riggs of Pivot Point introduced the event. He stated that,

“The dangerous misconception is the idea that the land use sector could balance out emissions from the fossil fuel. It cannot. Improvements in the mitigation performance of forests and forest landscapes must be taken in conjunction with deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions.

“Simply put, forests cannot be treated as an offset. Not conceptually, not as part of a Paris Agreement market mechanism, and certainly not to excuse continued coal burning or any other use of fossil fuels.”

In his presentation at the CLARA side event, Souparna Lahiri of the Global Forest Coalition talked about bioenergy. He pointed out that an area about the size of India would need to be converted to industrial tree plantations for bioenergy to provide just 5% of global energy demand.

Lahiri also noted that the Declaration refers to false solutions, such as REDD:

“We do not need these false solutions such as REDD+ to conserve forests and stop deforestation. Ministers should increase ambition in the Declaration on Forests. If the declaration noted that reductions in emissions and land carbon sequestration could result from improved land rights for indigenous peoples and local communities, reforestation and improved forest management, which is clearly missing in the Declaration.”

After the presentations, a question came from Matt Lithgow, a journalist with Carbon Pulse. He noted that in the current version of the negotiating text on Article 6.2, “removals by sinks” is in brackets in the draft text.

Article 6 is the provision in the Paris Agreement that could allow carbon trading as a way for oil companies and other polluters to avoid reducing their emissions. Shell played a key role in writing Article 6.

Virginia Young of the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society replied:

“The whole issue of trading in forest carbon is very vexed, and certainly the preference among the CLARA grouping has been to exclude it. Simply because forests are a far more complex system that the very simple emissions system when you dig up fossil fuel, you burn it and it goes straight into the atmosphere.

“Carbon in natural systems cycles through the system and is associated with so many other intimately integrated issues, it doesn’t lend itself a trading system.

“And then there’s the simpler argument there is actually no space left for offsetting. We simply have to reduce emissions in all sectors. So the system that the UN has set up which encourages offsetting across sectors and between sectors actually has some fundamental flaws.”

Here is the final version with the changes since the September 2018 draft version tracked:

The Ministerial Katowice Declaration on Forests for the Climate

The Ministers / the Head of Delegations attending the twenty-fourth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Katowice, Poland, from 2 to 14 December 2018,

Recalling that in order to achieve the long-term temperature goal, the Parties to the Paris Agreement aims to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of 21st century this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty,

(placeholder for relevant information from the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C)

Calling upon the Further recalling that Parties to should take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, including forests and forest products as well as to strengthen cooperation in this respect,

Underlining that mitigation potential of terrestrial ecosystems should be further increased, and capacity of our ecosystems to adapt to climate change should be enhanced simultaneously,

Affirming that there is no future without addressing climate change, and forests are a key component to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, which will contribute to building a community with a shared future for humankind,

Welcoming the finding of the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C which reveals that all pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C project the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) that is subject to multiple feasibility and sustainability constraints, while requiring rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure and industrial systems that imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investment,

Acknowledging the important role of forests as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, in mitigating climate change, and simultaneously recognizing the need for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and forest conservation, sustainable management of forests, enhancement of forest carbon stocks, as well as alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while addressing and respecting social and environmental safeguards and objectives,

Recognizing that climate change is affecting forests, under certain circumstances, as a result of natural disasters, leading to increased emissions, affecting the carbon storage capacity of forests and underlining the need to increase the capacity of forests to adapt to climate change,

Recognizing that forest ecosystems have a special role to play in the accumulation of carbon in the soil and trees, and then in the pool of harvested wood product serving as alternative materials with a smaller carbon footprint,

Further recognizing that forests have a decisive role to play in the sequestration and storage of carbon in the soil, trees and other vegetation, and in providing goods, resources and materials with a smaller carbon footprint, such as harvested wood products,

Sharing the UN Strategic Plan for Forests’ vision of a world where in which all types of forests and trees outside forests are sustainably managed, contribute to sustainable development and provide economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits for present and future generations. and rRecognizing that multifunctional and sustainable forest management is a form of nature protection contributes to nature conservation, as well as constitutes a keystone in achieving a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks,

Stressing that forest ecosystems have various functions – economic, social and environmental, and inter alia offer valuable non-wood products and are a source of livelihood for local communities,

Emphasizing that healthy, biologically diverse, and resilient forests adapted to climate change have important benefits for species habitat and biodiversity, and ensure the continued provision of a wide range of ecosystem services that are essential to human health and well-being,

Further recognizing the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in conserving and sustainably managing forests for the benefit of present and future generations,

Building on milestone documents and processes such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its SDGs, the UNFCCC and related legal instruments, the Warsaw Framework for REDD+, the CBD and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests, as well as other, global and regional initiatives regarding forest ecosystems sustainable forest management, and stressing the importance of strengthening synergies at the national level in implementing UNFCCC, CBD, UNCCD, UNFF, where appropriate,

1. Pledge to work together to accelerate our collective actions aimed at ensuring to ensure that global forest carbon stocks are the global contribution of forests and forest products is maintained and further supported and enhanced by 2050, in order to support the achievement of the long term goal of the Paris Agreement.

2. Encourage the scientific community including the IPCC to continue to explore and quantify the contribution of sinks, and reservoirs of greenhouse gases in managed lands, including forests, to achieving a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, as well as to explore ways to increase this contribution and welcome the work done up to now.

3. Finally affirm that there is no future without tackling climate change, but there is no future without forests either. Encourage non-party stakeholders including cities, regions, businesses and investors, to continue to display their ambition and commitments in their forestry related climate actions through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action and the NAZCA Platform.

 

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