In a face-saving measure to mitigate the effect of yesterday’s walkout by civil society organisations, Governments at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw on Friday agreed to a set of decisions on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and the degradation of forests. The agreement on the so-called REDD+ initiative is backed by pledges of 280 million dollars in financing from the US, Norway and the UK.
Speaking under strict conditions of anonymity, a lead negotiator from West Africa confirmed that the major push for today’s breakthrough came from the historic walkout by the civil society organisations. He further revealed that “decisions adopted provide guidance for ensuring environmental integrity and pave the way towards the full implementation of REDD+ activities on the ground.” The package also “provides a foundation for transparency and integrity of REDD+ action, clarifies ways to finance relevant activities and how to improve coordination of support.”
President of the conference Marcin Korolec said: “I am proud of this
concrete accomplishment. We are all aware of the central role that forests play as carbon sinks, climate stabilizers and biodiversity havens. We know the destructive impact that forest fires and deforestation have on peoples and economies. Through our negotiations, we have made a significant contribution to forest preservation and sustainable use which will benefit the people who live in and around them and humanity and the planet as a whole.”
Responding on behalf of the civil society organisations, Mithika Mwenda of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), in a statement, welcomed the breakthrough agreement on the REDD+ initiative and the pledges from US, Norway and the UK but kicked against “the absence of a stricter framework that will ensure that these new pledges do no go the way of previous pledges that are being modified and shifted at whim by the developed countries.” Mwenda also stressed the need for the conference to redeem its image by “tackling the complete failure of rich countries to deliver on existing promises on long-term finance which is putting the most vulnerable people in Africa and other parts of the world at risk.”
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) believes otherwise. According to her, “Governments have shown their firm commitment to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Warsaw. They have delivered a set of decisions that will make a significant impact in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries and catalyze actions in this critical area of addressing climate change.”