California’s REDD move could outpace Paris Agreement, justice groups press for delays

Published 01:27 on April 6, 2016  /  Last updated at 13:15 on July 5, 2017  /  Americas, Climate Talks, International, New Market Mechanisms, REDD, US  /  No Comments

California may not need to wait for UNFCCC endorsement to use foreign REDD credits in its cap-and-trade programme because the US state may transfer units before the Paris Agreement takes effect from 2020, officials told a workshop on Tuesday.

California may not need to wait for UNFCCC endorsement to use foreign REDD credits in its cap-and-trade programme because the US state may transfer units before the Paris Agreement takes effect from 2020, officials told a workshop on Tuesday.

The explanation came after environmental justice groups had called for a delay to the state’s informal consultations on the issue because the “rushed timing” might prevent effective scrutiny of the plans.

California is mulling the move after officials last year tentatively recommended to allow for the limited use of REDD offsets in its cap-and-trade system as soon as 2018. If approved, it would become the world’s first mandatory carbon market to use credits from the UN-led programme.

This timeline could potentially side-step any issues arising from Brazil’s INDC under the Paris Agreement, which appeared to tie any potential trade of offsets from its territory to requiring global endorsement under the UNFCCC.

The UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement binds all nations to emission curbs and specifically encouraged REDD, though rules on how governments can use the mechanism are only due to be hammered out over the next two or three years at UN negotiations, which require the agreement of all national governments.

“In my understanding, the INDC, like all INDCs, is primarily on post-2020. We are considering sector-based offsets for the 2018-2020 period,” said California official David Hults in response to a question from Carbon Pulse in a webstreamed workshop in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Hults stressed that California would need to better understand Brazil’s position for the state to move forward with REDD linkage, as well as fulfil its own strict regulatory standards.

California signed MOUs with Acre in Brazil and Mexico’s Chiapas in 2010 with a view to develop a framework for REDD, and the Brazilian state is seen as the front-runner to become the first eligible region to sell carbon credits to California cap-and-trade participants.

‘RUSHED’ CONSULTATIONS

Tuesday’s informal workshop is part of a consultation California officials are undertaking before making a final recommendation on REDD and other details on the 2018-2020 trading period and beyond.

Officials discussed and are seeking views up to a loose deadline of Apr. 22 on how to tackle reversals or permanence (the risk of the loss of carbon stocks such as through fire or forestry), leakage (the potential for deforestation to merely move to other areas), and auditing of REDD emission reductions.

They plan to hold more workshops on Apr. 25 on leakage, and on Apr. 28 on social and environmental safeguards.

The pace of the meetings has worried a group of environmental justice NGOs, who wrote to the officials on Mar. 18 urging them to delay sessions and allow stakeholders more time to prepare by releasing presentation documents further ahead of the meetings.

“The rushed timing barely affords attentive California residents the ability to engage in a substantial manner, much less allowing affected communities on the ground in the tropical forest regions in question time to be informed of the meeting and to consider participation,” they said in a letter reproduced on blog site REDD-Monitor.

By Ben Garside – ben@carbon-pulse.com

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