Thursday, June 4, 2009

Zero Sense - A forest carbon accounting proposal from the EU

This is a reprint of an article written for Climate Action Network's newsletter ECO:

Zero Sense

The current LULUCF negotiations cause ECO to reflect on a question asked by some Parties with all seriousness: should a country be excused from accounting LULUCF debits from its national forest as long as it remains a sink? Isn’t it wrong to penalize a country as long as its forest is still removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and therefore helping to mitigate climate change? Should we only assign LULUCF debits from forest management after the value of the forests sink becomes zero and it becomes a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere?’ The answer to these questions must be no.

The issue is not whether a national forest is removing CO2 from the atmosphere, but how much. Forests currently represent a large global sink, helping reduce the impact of fossil fuel emissions. A decline in the size of that sink would be of great concern.

Eco did an analysis[1]: what would be the effect if all Annex 1 Parties were allowed to reduce their forest sink to zero without accruing any LULUCF debits? The result speaks for itself: 2.4 billion tons of CO2e[2] in lost sequestration without even a blip in any Party’s account; 2.4 billion tons of CO2e that represent a net emission if not compensated by greater emission reductions elsewhere; 2.4 billion tons of CO2e in lost sequestration that would be hidden behind a newly proposed LULUCF accounting rule called “the band from zero to the bar.”

[1] Using convention reporting data for all Annex 1 Parties from 1990 – 2006. 1990 was used as the default bar and 2002-2006 was used as a hypothetical commitment period.

[2] This corresponds to roughly four percent of total emission allowances for the first commitment period

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