When we talk about climate change, forests offer all the magical solutions we have been looking for. Forests absorb one-third of fossil fuel emissions, thereby making our planet a decent place to live. But when we are into deforestation drive, forests emit carbon into the atmosphere, which is already polluted. Both scientists and policymakers have been wondering about the contradictory nature of forests in this regard.
We have come to point where we need climate solutions urgently. Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) has tried to address this duality of forests in a series of publications.
From Kyoto to Paris
Since UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) came into existence, it was established that countries will count only the greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. They categorically excluded the influence of natural processes in greenhouse gas emissions. The CLUA has managed to address this problem in their first publication. They have pointed out the UNFCCC rules needs re-evaluation. Kyoto Protocol came into existence in 1997 and developed countries were asked to come up with binding targets to deal with greenhouse emissions. Certain forestry practices allowed them to curb greenhouse emissions to some extent and these countries were allowed to count these as well. However, no such target was in place for developing countries. Things didn’t stay the same for long; developing countries realized that something was amiss. Developing countries pointed out that it is important not to clear the forests if they have to deal with both sustainable development and climate change at the same. International negotiators came up with a program named REDD+, which introduced payments on the basis of results for developing countries. The program aimed to encourage the developing counties to enhance and conserve the forests they possess besides creating new forests.
Making some progress in Paris
In the 2015 Paris Agreement, both developed and developing countries were encouraged to take full advantage of their forests in dealing with climate change. Kyoto Protocol targeted only developing countries when it comes to binding commitments. But the Paris Agreement asks for the participation of both developing and developed countries to come up with their own non-binding, unique targets. And these targets are referred to as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDCs must reflect the climate actions each country plans to carry out until 2030. It has become evident that both developing and developed countries are giving more weight to forests in mitigating climate change.
Forests have immense potential when it comes to mitigating climate change. Brazil is one fine example we can take here. Brazil managed to mitigate climate change to a great extent by reducing deforestation. It resulted in considerable emission reductions. If countries stick to the NDC goals, then we will be able to reduce greenhouse emissions to a great extent with the help of forests. Our goal is to turn the sector from carbon positive to carbon negative. The Paris Agreement aims to achieve overall carbon balance on the planet as we hit 2050.
The Global Stocktake
As per the Paris Agreement, countries are supposed to take part in a Global Stocktake in 2018. And this will repeat itself every 5 years after that. The Stocktake will be taking a closer look at the NDC data provided by the countries to make sure that we are making collective progress in preventing the rise in average temperature globally. The Global Stocktake is meant to give a clear picture to all countries as far as their NDC goals are concerned. This will help them to address the concerns and challenges in achieving the same.