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After COP26 : Bridging the Great Divide

The climate crisis has seen an increased polarization between two main narratives; one that seeks to accelerate action at the speed of economic growth and another that seeks to heal the earth and slow economic growth in response to the science. This dichotomy manifested at COP26 through the divide between the negotiating rooms in the blue zone and side events led by indigenous and forest communities and their representatives, who showed up in larger numbers at COP than ever before.

The gap grows as outcomes from COP26 are digested. According to The Carbon Brief, analysis of climate warming scenarios suggest that current policies will lead to a best-estimate of around 2.6°C to 2.7°C warming by 2100. But if countries can meet their long-term net-zero promises, global warming would peak around 1.9°C in the middle of the century and then decline to around 1.8°C by 2100. Will these promises lead to action?


As we have seen with our projects, the voluntary carbon market as part of a comprehensive and transparent emissions reduction plan towards a net-zero goal, has been helping to narrow this gap between ambition and policy.


The UN process is now recognising the emerging punching power of the voluntary carbon market and has opened a door for voluntary market units to be used in compliance regimes in the future. This will likely boost the appetite of voluntary buyers and create a healthy market for us to fulfill our contract with Hartree to implement 20 new projects using our community-centered strategy that prioritizes community self governance and equitable, direct climate finance.


As private sector demand for voluntary market REDD+ credits grows rapidly, each host country was left to determine how the credits generated from new projects will align with their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Although, the article 6 decision was clear that corresponding adjustments for voluntary market credits will not be required by the UN.


The guidance on Art 6 clarifies the substantial reporting and tracking infrastructure requirements for Paris Agreement compliant carbon emission transfers to take place between countries, to ensure alignment with NDCs. Stringently managed NDCs, NDC update cycles and up-to-date inventories will be needed.


Although we operate today exclusively in the voluntary market, we advocate strongly for project nesting so that our projects can help NDC achievement. But whether or not our credits can ever be transferred between host countries under Article 6, Wildlife Works will continue to support policy, best practices and support other financing tools that prioritize local communities’ access to equitable, direct financing and self-governance.


Medical services funded by the sales of carbon credits at Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project
Community-led medical services funded by the sales of carbon credits at Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project. photo: Filip Agoo

This community-centered strategy is Wildlife Works' effort to address the fact that forest communities are most vulnerable to climate change yet receive the least support to manage the impacts. This is one of the many climate justice concerns that Glasgow did not solve. Climate activists spoke up about the broken promise from rich nations to channel US$100 billion per year to less wealthy nations by 2020, which has long been seen as a minimum, to increase over time. New loss and damage pledges in the Glasgow Climate Pact were made but action is yet to be seen.


We have increased our commitment to bridging this funding gap beyond our projects with our investment in the launch of the Peoples Forests Partnership, an important new initiative to channel climate and conservation finance directly to Indigenous Peoples and local communities.


Francisca Arara (Regional Committee for Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities of the Governors' Climate Task Force), speaking at COP26 for Peoples Forests Partnership panel.
Francisca Arara (Regional Committee for Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities of the Governors' Climate Task Force), speaking on the Peoples Forests Partnership panel at COP26. photo: Leo Plunkett

Peoples Forests Partnership launched at COP26 with a panel discussion featuring Indigenous leaders, local community advocates and representatives who shared their perspective on how climate action is failing forest communities and what needs to be done about it. Watch the discussion here.


The Partnership is currently conducting its public consultation on its joining criteria and principles for engagement. If you would like to participate or express your interest in joining, please visit www.peoplesforestspartnership.org


We have our work ahead of us, and it’s a long road ahead. As Peoples Forests Partnership facilitating partner Beto Borges of Forest Trends said, “The fate of humanity rests on our ability to succeed in being better partners for our planet’s forest guardians. In doing so, not only will future generations recognize us for being good stewards of the land, they will recognize us for being good stewards of one another.” Read his full oped here.


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