Over the past several months, we (self-described Team Latvia) have been working hard to decipher Latvian climate policy and to determine Latvia’s stake in the upcoming COP negotiations.  Latvia is a Baltic state, which gained its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.  The official Latvian Tourism Portal states that “the best thing about Latvia is that it is so compact.”  We believe Latvia’s small size is only one of its many assets.  We are also proud to note that all three of us could locate Latvia on a map before this project began.  Grant even has some family connections (Hawaii-Latvia, who knew?)
But, to us, Latvia  is now no longer just a location far, far away on a map.  Having worked closely with members

By Angel Hsu, Phd candidate and YCEI Fellow

Escaping the frigid, air-conditioned corridors of the Moon Palace and Cancunmesse convention rooms, I had the rare opportunity to visit the site of a pilot forest carbon project managed by local Mayan campesinos or farmers.

Called Reserva Ejidal, this 1,230 hectare patch of forest reserve is located about a 2-hour drive from Cancun and 15 kilometers west of the Sian Ka’an UNESCO site. The project Much Kana K’aax, which means “together we take care of the jungle” in Mayan, was initiated in 2006 and is an example of a community-managed forest carbon project.

Source: http://muchkanankaax.com/

Having had a chance to examine the REDD text of the Cancun Agreement, I find it a relatively positive step forward that manages to avoid some, but not all, of the misperceptions and biases that I encountered while attending REDD-oriented side events during my time at the COP. Below are some observations and lingering concerns.

The emphasis on national-level REDD.

Section C of the Cancun Agreement calls on developing countries to produce national strategies and action plans, national forest reference emissions levels, and national forest monitoring systems. The emphasis on national levels of deforestation and degradation is important in order to limit leakage from REDD projects—without national-level policies or controls, economic activities that cause deforestation could easily move from protected sites to non-protected sites at little to no…

Year 2010 was one of the warmest ones from the last 30 years; floods in Pakistan and Colombia, forest fires in Russia, hurricanes in Haiti are unequivocal proof of global climate change and the challenges it poses for humanity. Despite the importance of the COP16 for the continuity of the planet, the global interest and attention during the Cancun conference was much lower to what the world experienced a year ago at Copenhagen. After a huge expectation from last year negotiations, including the mobilization of the Presidents of leading Nations and intense press and media coverage, the outside vision of this year negotiation was characterized by less global attention, the presence of fewer leaders, and headlines and front pages mainly covered everyday with new “wikileaks” documents. It seemed the negotiations…

The COP16 decisions were announced Saturday morning which left all countries except Bolivia relatively content with the results, and for many, restored trust in the UNFCCC process. I was at the conference, following mostly the REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) developments as well as some land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) issues as they pertain to my home country, Turkey.  I worked with the delegation from the Turkish Forest Service in the last week of the conference to exchange information and report to them on issues discussed at the side events on REDD+ related issues.

The decision on REDD+ was likely below expectations on this topic which…

I arrived to Cancun last Sunday and attended as many REDD-related side events as I could. Is interesting to see how these side events can range from being very broad and without any substance to actually represent unique learning opportunities.

For the most part I attended side events organized by IETA (International Emissions Trading Association). In these side events one could find all sorts of people working in REDD+ from project developers to multilateral institutions.  Topics ranged from finance to new methodologies to quantify projects’ risks.

What I liked the most about these talks was their practical approach, giving insides of what works in the field and what is merely theory. Practitioners shared valuable insides on how uncertainties can be included in a REDD+ project’s feasibility study; how…

Being at Cancun has thus far been an incredible opportunity. I arrived here on Saturday evening, and upon the advice of my fellow Yale delegates, I quickly got into the ocean as they said this was probably the only chance I would have to enjoy some waves. They weren’t kidding. Since Monday morning, things have been incredibly hectic, and I’ve been trying to attend as many side-events and presentations as possible, as well taking sometime to attend the plenary to see firsthand just how the UNFCCC process works.
Since the summer, I have been working closely with a small Ecuadorian NGO named CEPLAES. With funding from the Norwegian Rainforest network, this organization has been actively participating in a campaign called the “rainforest and rights’ initiative, which seeks to promote the…

Gender & Finance Update

Last week I blogged on the push to insert language on gender into the finance section of the LCA text. I’m happy to report, on this penultimate day of COP16, that a subparagraph in Annex IV of the latest draft calls for gender considerations to be taken into account when the composition of the Board of the Cancun Climate Fund is decided. The insertion of this currently-unbracketed subparagraph, if maintained, could bode well for future mention of gender as it relates to the actual allocation of funding.

(Pictured left) La Catrina, on display in Cancun Messe, toasts the Icelandic negotiator who has unrelentingly advocated for the inclusion of the gender text. Thanks to her efforts, mañana might be a good…