Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Critical to have Land Use and Forestry Rules Before Setting National Target: Annex 1 Parties

In the negotiations yesterday on setting the emission reduction target for industrialized nations, several Parties made the point that it was essential to first figure out the rules for land use, land-use change and forestry. The reason is clear: industrialized nations won't know what contribution this sector can make to reducing emissions before the rules are set. There's an even better reason to make sure things happen in this order: if you set the targets first, you can develop a set of rules that allow you to generate lots of 'hot air' credits from LULUCF - credits that have no bearing on what the atmosphere sees but are designed simply to make it easier to meet your overall target. This is what happened in Kyoto.

There's a hint that Parties may even be getting more brash. The hallways are buzzing with a new idea called 'the bar'. According to one interpretation, it would allow countries to negotiate a compliance threshold for LULUCF that gets them however many credits they think they need to meet their stated emission reduction targets at home. Are removals from forests declining? Set your bar even lower and you can generate credits rather than debits!

Even under the more cautious interpretations I've heard, some level of negotiation of the bar is permitted.

There is no formal proposal on the table yet for the bar but the Chair of the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol seems to think it holds promise...

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