As it currently stands, the Paris Agreement makes no specific reference to “land use” or “agriculture”. However there are several provisions which point to future implications for the land sector.
The Agreement includes provisions relating to REDD. Article 5 states:
“Parties are encouraged to take action to implement and support, including through results-based payments, the existing framework as set out in related guidance and decisions already agreed under the Convention for: policy approaches and positive incentives for activities relating to 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; and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches.”
Paragraph 55 of the Decision (to adopt the Paris Agreement) provides that parties recognize the importance of providing adequate finance for programs including REDD.
The inclusion of REDD is notable in the Paris Agreement, given that the mechanism has been in development for over ten years. However, it remains to be seen how the provisions will be implemented.
At COP22 in Marrakesh, the first COP after the Paris Agreement took effect; parties considered whether future cooperative mechanisms implemented under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement should also cover REDD activities. It is hoped that further negotiations at COP23 will provide the detail on how REDD will be implemented under the Paris Agreement.
International emissions trading
Article 6 of the Agreement provides that parties may use “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” to meet emissions reduction targets. This article is intended to form the basis of an international trading scheme. Article 6 has been a strong focus of negotiations in the lead up to COP23, as parties consider the rulebook and details for building global carbon markets. Parties began to discuss the frameworks for international markets at COP22 in Marrakesh; however limited progress was made on the technical detail.
The introduction of a robust international emissions trading mechanism would likely provide opportunities for the land sector, which is well placed to deliver emissions reductions and sequestration. Allowing offsets from the land sector to be recognized in the SDM and in bilateral and regional carbon markets will greatly enhance the land sectors’ involvement in emissions reduction efforts.
The final rules will need to be agreed before COP24 in Poland in 2018. As the details of an international trading scheme are negotiated at COP23, stakeholders will be keen to ensure that any future arrangements do not repeat any of the difficulties that have been experienced with the CDM.
As highlighted above, the Paris Agreement has several long-term goals, including that parties should aim to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.
This highlights the significant role that the land sector will need to play in offsetting emissions, as the world transitions towards carbon neutrality.