The Durban agreement

23 dec 2011

Hans Nilsagård summarizes the decisions addressing the forest resource

EU signed up for a second commitment period

The 2011 summit under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was prolonged one day in order to secure a package of agreements, moving the world one step forward in struggle to combat climate change. The main features of the package were that the EU signed up for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol while the large emitters outside the protocol, viz. the USA, Japan, Russia, India and China, all agreed on a new legal agreement to be signed in 2015. The summit resulted in a number of decisions of which at least three addressed the forest resource.

The REDD+ mechanism

Two decisions regarding the REDD+ mechanism, addressing forestry in the developing world were agreed. One covered the application of safeguards of forest values other than climate change mitigation as well as how to set national reference levels and how to monitor, report and verify results. The second decision dealt with the difficult issue of how the developed countries would finance REDD+ activities carried out in developing countries. Both decisions should be seen merely as a first result of discussions initiated at last year’s meeting in Cancun and will result in more substantive decisions in the years to come.

Accounting rules for forestry and agriculture

The third decision dealt with accounting rules for forestry and agriculture in the developed world. This decision brings to an end several years of negotiations and the result is an update of modalities for use by those developed countries that take on a commitment during the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period from 2013 and onwards. It should be noted that neither Canada nor Russia with its vast forest resources support a commitment. The major change to be introduced pursuant to the decision is the introduction of projected reference levels, which will increase the incentives for countries to manage the forest sink. Other important changes include the introduction of modalities to exclude emissions related to extreme events such as wildfires, and the accounting of changes in the harvested wood products pool.

Text: Hans Nilsagård, Ministry for Rural Affairs/SIFI