8 December 2014

GLF news: Forestry, agriculture and other land use in the global climate agreement

By Dana Miller, originally posted at Environmental Defense Fund

Against a backdrop of tree-covered mountains, negotiators from all over the world are meeting in Lima, Peru, for the United Nations annual climate change conference. Before the meeting, Environmental Defense Fund and partners coordinated a workshop in Lima, where a group of country negotiators and other experts discussed how to bring forests and other land uses front and center in the global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year. Participants agreed that the agreement needs to include land use in a simple, flexible and transparent way to encourage as many countries as possible to take action in this doubly important sector, which both accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and also absorbs a significant fraction of the world’s carbon emissions every year.

At the UN climate conference in Lima, a group of country negotiators and other experts discussed how to bring forests and other land uses front and center in the global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year.

Among other conclusions, participants generally agreed on the need for an approach that allows comparisons of different countries’ mitigation efforts – one that takes into account both the commonalities between land uses in various countries, as well as the range of capabilities and complexities among them (such as distinctions between tropical forests of Peru and temperate forests in the United States, or between croplands and forests). Participants also agreed that such an approach is important in ensuring the overall environmental integrity of the 2015 agreement.

As a starting point for the workshop, a briefing paper on land use in a 2015 agreement was prepared by a group of land use experts with support from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (see presentations here). The workshop laid out four policy options for including land use, which ranged from complete uniformity in accounting rules to complete differentiation in accounting. Most participants agreed that they preferred a middle approach that fell between those options, starting with the three systems of accounting rules that already apply to different countries, and working toward more harmonization and common elements among them. This path could help Parties move towards a simpler and more comprehensive approach over time, while still building flexibility into the framework, so that Parties could select the system that best fits their own context. The report summarizing the discussion in the workshop can be found here.

Parties will continue the discussion on how to include land use in the 2015 agreement here in Lima this week. EDF hosted a related session at the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima on 6 December.