Goal 7: Agree in 2015 to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as part of a post-2020 global climate agreement, in accordance with internationally agreed rules and consistent with the goal of not exceeding 2°C warming

Key Messages

  • The text of the Paris Agreement anchors action on land-use, including REDD+, within the overall mitigation framework of the agreement, providing a long-term signal that clarifies the central role of forests in post-2020 mitigation efforts.
  • The Green Climate Fund is currently preparing modalities to operationalize REDD+ results-based payments, the final piece of the puzzle needed in the REDD+ operational framework.
  • An analysis of the 162 INDCs indicates that 98 Parties have proposed a quantified emission mitigation target that includes land use, while 60 Parties have proposed a non-emissions target on land use, either in lieu of or in addition to an emissions target covering the sector. Nonemissions targets are diverse, and include goals on overall forest cover, forest conservation and afforestation, reforestation and restoration.

 

 

OVERVIEW OF GOAL AND INDICATORS

Goal 7 aims for the inclusion of forest-related mitigation measures in a post-2020 climate agreement. The Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016 and is applicable beginning in 2020, commits Parties to collectively limit the average global temperature rise to below 2°Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with an aspirational goal of limiting it to 1.5°C. It builds on existing negotiations, decisions and protocols adopted under the UNFCCC, including the Kyoto Protocol, and the collection of COP decisions that have been taken in the negotiations leading up to the Paris Climate Summit. These decisions include, among others, the framework for REDD+.

The Paris Agreement establishes a framework for collective action, the credibility of which will depend on the bottom-up commitment of Parties to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through domestic action (Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs). In anticipation of the Paris Agreement, 162 Parties to the UNFCCC have submitted intended NDCs (INDCs) that describe their mitigation goals, with developed countries communicating these goals through economy-wide emission reduction targets and developing countries communicating economy-wide, jurisdictional or sectoral targets – which may be absolute or intensity-based – together with specific actions, depending on the national capabilities and circumstances. These NDCs comprise the substance of the Agreement’s mitigation approach, with the text of the Agreement providing a framework for accountability and assessment.

With this in mind, our indicators reflect elements of an agreement on REDD+, focusing on both the framework and the substance of mitigation actions, excluding assistance to developing countries, which is addressed in Goals 8 and 9. Indicator 1.1 assesses whether the final text of the Paris Agreement – and its accompanying COP decision – includes references to land-use and REDD+. Indicator 1.2 explores developments that relate to the operationalization of the REDD+ framework. Indicator 2 analyzes whether the INDCs submitted as of August 2016 include commitments in relation to the land-use or forestry sector and what accounting rules they apply to these commitments.

 

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FINDINGS

Criterion 1: References to land use (including REDD+) in Paris Agreement

Indicator 1.1: Inclusion of agreement to address land use

The Paris Agreement dedicates a full article (Article 5) to land-use and forests, cementing the role of forests and other carbon sinks in achieving the overall mitigation goal of the Agreement. The text adopted provides a long-term signal that clarifies the central role of forests in post-2020 mitigation efforts.

Article 5 contains two paragraphs. The first encourages all Parties to take action to conserve and enhance sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, including forests and biomass. Though each Party will determine the role of land use in its NDC (see Indicator 1.2), this provision clarifies the overall expectation that Parties will include land-use to the extent possible. This expectation is also emphasized by the accounting rules for NDCs, which encourage broad coverage.

In its second paragraph, Parties are “encouraged” to implement and support REDD+, through results-based payments and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation, which the COP confirmed in Paris is understood as an alternative to results-based finance for REDD+.(54) This provision explicitly incorporates the existing REDD+ framework adopted under the UNFCCC within the framework of the Paris Agreement, for the first time anchoring these rules in a high-level agreement.

Indicator 1.2: Finalization of operational framework for REDD+

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) – which became operational in November 2015 and approved its first funding proposals in June 2016 – adopted an “Initial Logic Model and Performance Measurement Framework” for REDD+ Results-based Finance (RBF) in 2015. Building on this, in March 2016 the Board of the GCF requested the Secretariat to make a proposal for operationalizing REDD+ RBF, which was presented in October 2016.(55) Based on this proposal, the Board requested the Secretariat to develop a call for proposals that would include detailed modalities for making REDD+ RBF, in line with UNFCCC decisions. This proposal will be presented to the Board at its 16th meeting, expected to take place in Summer 2017.

 

Criterion 2: References to land use (including REDD+) in submitted NDCs

Indicator 2.1: Inclusion of land-use or forestry mitigation targets

For this indicator, we analyzed the content of 157 INDCs submitted in the run up to the Paris COP, as well as three INDCs and three NDCs that were submitted in 2016.xiv An analysis of the 162 INDCs or NDCs indicates that 98 Parties propose a quantified emission mitigation target that includes land use. Of these, 86 plan to adopt an economy-wide or multi-sector target that includes land use, while 12 plan to adopt only a specific emissions target on land use, and one adopts both. In contrast, 42 Parties exclude land use from their emissions mitigation targets, mostly due to accounting challenges, though a number of countries indicate they will revisit this decision at a later date.

In addition, 60 Parties propose a non-emissions target on land use, either in lieu of or in addition to an emissions target covering the sector. Some of these targets are contained in the mitigation sections of the INDCs, while others are in the adaptation section. The non-emissions targets include goals on overall forest cover, forest conservation and afforestation, reforestation and restoration, typically quantified in terms of hectares of forest (see Indicator 5.2 on afforestation, reforestation, and restoration commitments). They also include goals on a given proportion of forests to be designated as national parks or other protected areas. Three additional Parties specify actions in the land-use sector but do not propose a quantifiable goal.

These overall numbers are in line with the analysis undertaken in the 2015 report. The decision of a relatively large majority of countries to include land-use within their emission targets, and of most additional countries to at least adopt a non-emission target on land use, means that Indicator 2 can be considered to have been met. At the same time, it is important to note that many of these targets are subject to the provision of international financing, and their implementation will likely require significantly more finance than has currently been pledged for land-use mitigation.

 

 

DATA DEVELOPMENTS AND GAPS

Despite this, it is important to highlight that there remain large uncertainties regarding how countries will account for their land-use sector emissions. While most countries confirm they intend to account for their emissions using IPCC guidelines, there are discrepancies as to whether 1996 or 2006 guidelines will be used, and only a handful of countries indicate their intention to use the 2003 IPCC Good Practice Guidance for the land sector. Several countries indicate specific approaches, including the net-net approach, the reference level approach, or a combination of these. Other countries clarify their targets are subject to further guidance on accounting for land-use emissions.

The diversity of approaches and substantial gaps in detail indicate that a good deal of work remains to be done to clarify the scope of and assumptions underlying the broad inclusion of land use within emissions targets in INDCs. Other analysis has also highlighted the lack of clarity and consistency regarding the accounting of land-use emissions in INDCs, and notes that several countries have stated this as a reason for omitting the land-use sector from their targets.(37)