The National Wildlife Federation participates in international climate negotiations to ensure comprehensive agreements that prioritize forest conservation while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and land-use conversion.
Over the past 20 years, NWF has participated in global climate negotiations, seeking an agreement to curb emissions and avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change for people and wildlife.
International Climate Negotiations
International climate negotiations are convened under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which provides the framework for global cooperation to combat climate change. The primary venues for these negotiations include the annual Conference of Parties (COP), which occurs in a different city each year, and the inter-sessional negotiations, which take place each June in Bonn or Geneva. Important outcomes from recent climate negotiations are highlighted below.
COP22- Marrakesh, Morocco
In November 2016, COP22 focused on accelerating global climate action and implementation of the Paris Agreement, which entered into force earlier in the month. Work Programmes were established to create the Paris Agreement rulebook by 2018 – two years ahead of schedule – which will include further guidance for governments on accounting (how to measure reductions in carbon pollution) and transparency (how to report on these reductions) – both of particular importance for the land sector. The Parties issued the Marrakech Action Proclamation, which sends a strong signal for urgency, ambition, and solidarity, and affirms that the Paris Agenda will move forward – independent of what any one Party decides to do. However, no substantial progress was made on the technical work for issues relating to climate-friendly agricultural practices, which will be discussed again at the next technical meeting in 2017. NWF and our partners will continue to call for action and share our knowledge of solutions that work for agriculture, forests, and the climate.
Throughout COP22, NWF participated in many forums that showcased exciting innovations and announcements on climate action. NWF co-hosted an official side event exploring opportunities to improve management practices on farms and ranches around the world as a means to improve rural livelihoods, reduce the impacts of climate change, and protect wildlife habitat. Additionally, International Team Manager, David Burns, presented at the onsite Low Emissions Solutions Conference about the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), which is a core partner of the new Below50 campaign and an integral part of finding solutions for low-carbon transport that also protect wildlife and wild spaces.
COP 21 – Paris, France (Paris Agreement)
In December 2015, representatives from nearly 200 countries approved the historic “Paris Agreement,” the first comprehensive agreement to limit carbon emissions that applies to all countries and seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – a target that could avoid the worst impacts of climate change for people and wildlife. The Paris Agreement requires all country Parties to put forward their best “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) toward reducing carbon emissions, and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. Parties will regularly report on their commitments, with a global stocktaking every five years to assess collective global progress.
One particularly important feature of the Paris Agreement, that the National Wildlife Federation fought to include, is the explicit recognition that forests play a key role in reducing carbon emissions because of the immense amount of carbon they store (or “sequester”). Indeed, emissions related to land use accounts for almost a quarter of the global total. Reaching the 1.5°C goal would not be possible without addressing the emissions from agriculture and deforestation.
Article 5 of the Paris Climate Agreement calls on governments to take action to conserve and enhance forests. The agreement explicitly recognizes “REDD+” as part of the final package (REDD means Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, with the “+” referring to the role of forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks). The REDD+ accords, which had been previously agreed among the Parties (see Warsaw below), are designed to incentivize developing countries to leave their forests standing. The inclusion of REDD+ in the Paris Agreement provides a powerful political and economic signal that forests are a part of the solution.
COP 20 – Lima, Peru (LPAA AND NAZCA)
COP20 primarily focused on providing guidance about the scope and level of detail to be found in the pledges that countries would ultimately put forward in Paris in 2015. The actions they would take to reduce their emissions were deemed “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” or “INDCs”, and defining them was an important step towards the new global Climate Agreement in Paris.
COP20 also witnessed the birth of the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), in which all sorts of actors, not just national governments, pledged to strengthen their own climate actions and to increase their “level of ambition.” The LPAA included the private sector, and city and state governments, with the goal to mobilize new and significant actions with global impact, and to engage new partners. This provided momentum toward the Paris Agreement, as well as enhanced support to existing initiatives (such as the New York Declaration on Forests). The LPAA launched a new online registry where non-Parties could highlight their own actions and commitments (called the “NAZCA” portal, or Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action), which includes specific pillars of action for both forests and agriculture.
COP 19 – Warsaw, Poland (Warsaw Framework for REDD+)
COP19 witnessed the adoption of the “Warsaw Framework for REDD+”, a collection of decisions that when taken together operationalize REDD+. The full collection of decisions relevant to REDD+ (including inter alia methodological guidance, social and environmental safeguards, and results-based finance) are available here.