Thursday, June 16, 2011

Blue Carbon Policy Options Assessment

Blue Carbon Policy Options Assessment

As part of an effort to promote the inclusion of the blue carbon concept in key climate-policy frameworks, Linden Trust commissioned Climate Focus to review and evaluate the various policy options available for blue carbon. The report, released on June 15, 2011, and titled 'Blue Carbon - Policy Options Assessment,' aims to help the blue carbon community in understanding and prioritizing policy options.

The report’s Priority Recommendations follow:

A number of opportunities exist to promote blue carbon as a legitimate climate change activity. However, promoting blue carbon as a new and separate agenda item under the UNFCCC in the same way as REDD+ was developed is unlikely to succeed. The current UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol negotiations are already overloaded and adding yet another item to the list may be counterproductive in the short term – especially before IPCC reporting guidelines have been developed and improved and the impact of blue carbon is better understood. Any advocacy within the UNFCCC should therefore be focused on improving IPCC guidelines and integrating blue carbon into the existing NAMA and REDD+ agendas. The following are therefore our recommended “High Priority” actions for the next 18 months.

1. Develop and improve IPCC reporting guidelines where they do not adequately cover blue carbon sinks and reservoirs carbon sinks and reservoirs carbon sinks and reservoirs carbon sinks and reservoirs. A lack of confidence in the quantification of net climate benefits of blue carbon is a barrier to finance and incentive mechanisms including carbon markets. A priority should therefore be to support scientific research without delay to better quantify emissions and removals from changes to blue carbon sinks and reservoirs, such as salt marshes and mangroves, and with a particular focus on sea grasses which currently fall outside IPCC guidelines. The IPCC has proposed a process to produce supplemental guidance on these ecosystems by 2013.

2. Ensure NAMAs include actions that address blue carbon. For some countries, blue carbon may be a significant mitigation opportunity. NAMAs offer a potential source of financing while methodologies for carbon measurement are being developed and improved. NAMAs should focus on a combination of “readiness” and demonstration activities for sea grasses, salt marshes, and non-forest mangroves. Mangroves considered forests can be included within REDD+ action. Readiness activities would focus on increasing a country’s understanding of emissions and removals from blue carbon sinks and reservoirs and their drivers of emissions, and what is needed to address them. Implementation should focus on demonstration activities to protect or restore blue carbon ecosystems, and may extend to an effort to access performance-based finance such as sectoral crediting or other mechanisms. It should be possible to work with at least two or three countries to develop and submit blue carbon NAMAs for funding within 18 months. Priority could be given to working with Nigeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, India, Mozambique, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines on readiness, and with Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Malaysia on implementation.

3. Utilize REDD+, which has more developed policy structures and could include mangroves that meet the definition of a forest that meet the definition of a forest that meet the definition of a forest that meet the definition of a forest. Analysis and education is needed amongst developing countries to help them understand the implications that different forest definitions have on the inclusion of mangroves within REDD+. This should be capable of completion within a matter of months. Support is also needed for countries to gain a better understanding of the implications that mangrove forests may have on forest reference levels and reference emission levels developed by developing countries through 2011 and 2012 (as needed).

4. Leverage the multiple benefits of blue carbon to access financing. Protecting and restoring blue carbon sinks and reservoirs can have multiple benefits for climate change mitigation and adaptation, along with additional co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation. The ability to check a number of donor priorities or funding commitments within a single activity will increase the likelihood of accessing public funding from developed countries. A recommended short term priority is to access fast start finance to support the above activities. Accessing this funding should be possible within 18 months.

Click here for the full report: Blue Carbon Policy Options Assessment