On the Road to Paris. Next Stop: Bonn, June 2015

Climate Forests Jun 10, 2015
Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez

Climate negotiators meeting in Bonn, Germany next week are under pressure to make significant progress and set the stage for a global deal in Paris later this year. Special meetings focusing on the draft of an overall global climate deal have been added to the usual June agenda of scientific and technical issues.

Countries already have started adding their preferred options on some of the key issues, including the overall temperature goal, the legal framework, transparency issues, mitigation, finance and REDD+. But, when 196 countries start adding their positions, you get a bloated text that has every option possible. Comprehensive? Yes. Ready for an actual negotiation? No.

Why Does Bonn Matter?

The main objective of the Bonn meeting from June 1 to 11 is to “streamline”, or shorten, the current version of the negotiation text that is currently almost 100 pages. The more difficult process of elimination, where specific options are deleted, will wait until the text is shortened and, hopefully, more manageable.

It is hard to say what success looks like. 60 pages? 50 pages? There is no exact page number that Forest Trends can point to as a successful outcome, but progress has to be made. Otherwise, we will not have time to get down to a reasonable text that can be negotiated by Ministers and Heads of State in Paris.

Deforestation and Land Use Issues on the Agenda


Forest Trends has been tracking REDD+ finance flows in 14 countries as part of our REDDX project, and our findings clearly indicate that current financing of REDD+, which is primarily from donor countries–and not carbon markets–is insufficient to reduce global deforestation at the scale needed to avoid dangerous climate change. The Paris deal should allow the use of carbon markets, subject to strong social and environmental safeguards, to close the finance gap.

Every year, the June negotiations in Bonn focus primarily on scientific and technical issues. These take place under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, or SBSTA for short. This is where the REDD+ negotiations will take place and there are three issues on the agenda:

  1. Whether there is a need for further guidance on issues relating to social and environmental safeguards. Safeguards in the UNFCCC context are meant to prevent and mitigate undue harm from REDD+ activities.
  2. Developing methodological guidance on non-market-based approaches.
  3. Methodological issues related to non-carbon benefits

Forest Trends believes that the current guidance on safeguards is sufficient for now and that countries must implement and respect them. Countries should think of the UN safeguards as a “floor” and should aim to strengthen them over time with technical assistance and financing, if needed. We also think that countries should be free to decide if they want to access carbon markets or not, but that efforts to dismiss carbon markets are not helpful. Finally, non-carbon benefits can mean many things, but a lack of agreement should not prevent REDD+ from going forward and should be a fundamental pillar of mitigation in the Paris agreement.

Land Use

The agreement at COP 21 in Paris needs to address all sources of emissions. Although most people think of climate change as a fossil fuel problem, agriculture, forestry, land-use change, and other land uses, (the “land sector”), account for about 24% of global greenhouse gas emission. This sector must be part of the Paris agreement and together with NGO partners, Forest Trends will be working to make sure that land use is included in the text produced in Bonn.

Forest Trends on the Ground

Forest Trends staff will be on the ground covering these meetings, with a focus on the negotiations track, as well as mitigation, finance, land use and REDD+ issues. Stay tuned for further updates and follow us on Twitter (@foresttrendsorg), Facebook, and on our website www.forest-trends.org.


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