Cool COP Morning: Optimism Over US, China and Forests

Written by David Connell on . Posted in Learn, The Wonk Room

An agreement at the COP continues to hinge largely on negotiations between the United States and China on greenhouse gas emissions reductions verifications (MRV). Reporting in The New York Times, John Broder says U.S. and Chinese negotiators have narrowed their differences on the issue, resulting in some optimism among the negotiators. However, Broder cautions that with only three days left for negotiations, the parties are still a long way from an agreement. He notes that the absence of Heads of State at this year’s COP has led to a more relaxed atmosphere and also says there is “some talk in the corridors of breaking off the forestry issue and negotiating a separate deal that would save millions of acres of forestland while increasing compensation to countries like Brazil and Indonesia where forests are fast disappearing.” (New York Times)

Despite the talk of optimism, U.S. envoy Todd Sterns says that China’s latest stance on emissions reductions — to include in an official United Nations document a “voluntary” pledge to rein in emission — does not represent a “game changer” for the negotiations. However, European Commission envoy Artur Runge-Metzger says China’s remarks represent a “move toward the middle ground” and our own Andrew Deutz, director  of international government relations, is cautiously optimistic, saying, “It looks like things are coalescing” and that the verification roadblock should be “removable.” (Bloomberg)

Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post writes that UN negotiators are very close to finishing a formal text on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation (REDD) that would provide funding for developing nations to preserve their forests, define how to measure deforestation and put environmental and social safeguards in place for forest projects. Eilperin states that the forest carbon market that would grow out of any climate agreement would be modest at first and funded largely through the roughly $4.5 billion in pledged donations to Brazil and Indonesia and other countries that show the most promise of delivering on verifiable cuts in deforestation. “There will not be a waterfall of money that will come from a final deal,” says Deutz. Which is unfortunate, because estimates say the world would need to devote $25 billion a year annually to cut deforestation in half by 2020. (Washington Post)

United nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke yesterday to give negotiators a pep-talk of sorts, telling them that they must strive to reach an agreement, but that it does not have to be perfect. “We don’t need final agreement on all the issues, but we do need progress on all the fronts. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Moon told negotiators. (Guardian)

Finally, NPR’s Christopher Joyce puts the Cancun negotiations in the context of failed climate change legislation here in the United States, noting that the lack of a climate bill has had a chilling effect on the Cop 16 negotiations. Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek says its time to “go back to the drawing board” on a climate bill and  try to build more support for climate legislation. (NPR)

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