UN Body Agrees Vital Carbon Crediting Guidance Ahead of COP28

UN Body Agrees Vital Carbon Crediting Guidance Ahead of COP28

The new guidelines focus on ensuring the mechanism benefits the environment, host countries and buyers alike

The United Nations Body tasked to operationalize a new UN carbon crediting mechanism under the Paris Agreement has agreed on recommendations for crucial guidance on greenhouse gas removals and mechanism methodologies.

The Article 6.4 Supervisory Body held an additional virtual meeting ahead of COP28, where they reached an agreement to adopt both guidance documents and submit them for approval by the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) in Dubai.

The intense discussions followed directly after the Body’s meeting in Bonn at the start of November and spanned two weeks, over which members worked together to overcome challenges and reach consensus.

The new Paris Agreement crediting mechanism aims to facilitate international collaboration in reducing emissions and combating climate change. The agreement reached on key guidance this week was an essential element in ensuring that the mechanism becomes operational next year.

Methodology guidelines

The Supervisory Body agreed on the practical standards for the development of carbon crediting methodologies under the new UN mechanism.

By doing so, they’ve set a much-needed direction for the mechanism’s operation, eagerly awaited by stakeholders in both the voluntary and compliance markets. While offering clarity, the agreement also allows for future improvements and refinements.

The new guidelines focus on ensuring the mechanism benefits the environment, host countries and buyers alike.

In discussions, members aimed to strike a balance between the various priorities Parties set forth in the Article 6 Rulebook in Glasgow and the need to ensure economic viability of critical mitigation activities so that they can contribute to achieving the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

Greenhouse gas removals

Greenhouse gas removals within the context of the new UN mechanism are credits generated by projects that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and destroy or durably store them.

The decision adopted by the Supervisory Body is technology- and approach-neutral and tries to accommodate for the diversity and richness of current and emerging removal activities while safeguarding their environmental integrity and continued impact.

The framework for removal activities focuses on the need to provide for adequate monitoring during and after the activities’ crediting periods and to remediate potential reversals.

With this recommendation, the Supervisory Body aims to set up a reversal risk buffer pool to ensure against potential reversals and develop a reversal risk assessment tool as well as other procedures and guidance to operationalise the regulatory framework supporting removal activities.

The Supervisory Body has received over 400 submissions from organizations on this topic, with input from hundreds of experts.

Every word has been carefully examined and members have worked tirelessly to agree on a path forward to deliver an outcome that is commensurate with the level of responsibility entrusted to them by the Parties to the Paris Agreement and stakeholders. The agreement reached this week paves the way for further guidance on this topic by the Supervisory Body.

Next steps

The recommendations will now go to the CMA, which oversees the implementation of the Paris Agreement, for adoption by the CMA in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

This means that the guidelines will now be looked at by country negotiators meeting in less than two weeks at COP28.

Chair and Vice-Chair remarks

Commenting on the meeting, Olga Gassan-zade, the Chair of the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body, said: “The recommendations on greenhouse gas removals and methodology requirements have been the most difficult part of our work over the past 18 months because of their weight and significance for the mechanism as a whole.

"But I believe we were able to find a way forward that allows us to deliver on our mandate and sets out a work programme to continue improving and expanding the framework for the Paris Agreement crediting mechanism established by the Parties in Glasgow.

“Together with the full package of project cycle and accreditation decisions, and the final drafts of the Supervisory Body tool and the appeals and grievance procedure, these two last documents give Article 6.4 a solid foundation to aim for full operationalization next year.

Mbaye Diagne, the Vice Chair of the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body, said: “There were some difficult issues across both removals and methodology guidelines, but we have tried to address them in a way that ensures the mechanism can be operationalized.

"And that was our mandate: to take the Rules and Procedures set out by the Paris Agreement and make them operational. The goal we are working towards is having the mechanism operational by next year.

“I appreciate the dedicated efforts of members of the Supervisory Body, and the valuable inputs from stakeholders that have shaped our discussions.”

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