By PETER S. KINJAP
WHEN talking climate change, carbon trade and mitigation approaches to address it, many readers on this column have personally emailed me and even asked me in person what really is “REDD+”?
To be frank, I myself do not know the scientific explanation behind it and to swiftly provide a snap short of the scheme for those who seeking for a quick answer.
As typical for commentators or newspaper writers, I will quote and make direct reference to a source that explains explicitly what REDD+ stands for and its relevance to the course of fighting climate change both nationally and internationally.
Also looking at why PNG is interested (should be) in REDD+ instruments to adapt it as a mini-tool to address climate change.
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and plus (+) conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+).
Thus, when looking closely at this definition, there are a lot of activities under this scheme, purportedly involving the Government, indigenous communities, international development partners and the private sector. And this definition is hardly to digest for ordinary people like me.
I have done a quick enquiry on this definition and how this could benefit Papua New Guinea.
Collectively, the answers showed that REDD+ is an international climate change mitigation financing mechanism adopted under the UNFCCC.
The concept is already in the process of implementation where PNG Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is a lead government agency partnering with other government agencies like CEPA, PNGFA, DAL, DLPP at the national level, and international development partners like UNDP, FAO, JICA, GGGI and private sectors like Oil Search Limited and others. All together have been striving to seek practical ways how to benefit while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from tropical forests.
PNG has been a party to the UNFCCC since signing the agreement in June 1992. The UNFCCC was ratified by the Government in the following year, April 1993.
The signing and ratification of the UNFCCC by the Government is a testimony of our strong commitment to fulfilling our obligations to the convention. It also signifies the concerns that PNG has about the issues pertaining to the impacts of climate change affecting its people and their survival.
An important pillar of this convention is the commitment, common but differentiated responsibilities, by all parties to take the necessary steps and measures to reduce GHG concentrations in the atmosphere.
The Kyoto Protocol is the first legal binding international climate treaty adopted under the UNFCCC to address the issues of climate change.
Signed in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, it commits developed countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions. To assist in this, they can use carbon offsets by implementing “Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)” in developing countries like PNG.
However, this has now been followed by the new Paris Climate Agreement adopted in December 2015 by 185 countries to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius (source: UNFCCC website)
PNG has gone ahead in embarking on a number of new initiatives aimed at supporting our commitment to the UNFCCC. These included mainstreaming climate change in our current national long term political vision, plans and strategies, namely the Vision 2050, the National Strategic Plan 2010-2030, Paris Agreement (Implementation) Act, National REDD+ Strategy 2017 – 2027 and other nationally important strategies and programs.
Furthermore, government’s strategy on climate change, the PNG Climate-Compatible Development Strategy, already identifies key priority areas to improve our economic growth whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing climate resilience.
Another milestone was the establishment of the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) to facilitate and develop appropriate policies and where required, necessary legislation to address the issues relating to climate change.
In addition, PNG has been leading a proactive Coalition of Rainforest Nations, engaging in negotiation under UNFCCC for its 52 member countries especially on REDD+ issues.
The aim of REDD+ is therefore to encourage the developing countries like PNG to conserve and sustainably managing their forests, as part of global efforts to address climate change under UNFCCC.
According to CCDA, PNG is now preparing to implement REDD+ as part of its contribution to tackle global climate change under the Paris Climate Agreement.
It says REDD+ is not about stopping economic activities or development rather it encourage practices in a more sustainable way by streamlining and implementing national policies to fight climate change.
The REDD+ programme requires the government as the regulator to coordinate the REDD+ activities nationally and report to UNFCCC internationally as a nation. REDD+ activities in the country must come pass or be registered through the National Designated Authority (NDA) which is CCDA so those can be reported to the international commitment under UNFCCC.
To make it happen on the ground, CCDA is reviewing its Climate Change (Management) Act (2015) in order to enable legislative environment for the government, indigenous communities, land custodians and private sector work together to fight climate change. The CCMA 2015 is now undergoing regional consultations and the last regional stakeholder consultation will be held in Alotau in July 2019.
According to CCDA, as the National Designated Authority on climate change, the accessibility for climate finance under REDD+ instruments is only possible if there is a robust, transparent and accountable mechanism established within the country. This is a priority for the government and CCDA in particular to make sure we have an appropriate mechanism and carbon registry in the country to avoid any double counting.
Therefore, the robust, transparent and accountable mechanism stated above should not only be set as “top-down” but also must consider a “down-top” approach to ensure the rights of landholders and indigenous communities who historically preserving these forests and other natural assets are well considered and they are beneficially part of the process.
To prevent climate chaos, firstly it is necessary to understand and appreciate the REDD+ concept if we really want to be part of the process to tackle climate change. Without which, we may confuse ourselves as indigenous landholders of our pitch within the scheme and might miss the opportunities in the green economy.
I will come back to this column with another article next week looking more closely into REDD+ programs in PNG, the different stages of its implementation and what CCDA and the international development partners are doing and its current status.
- Peter S. Kinjap is a freelance writer and a blogger, email: email@example.com