Friday, October 23, 2009

EU Solidifying Role as Bad Guy in UN Forest Climate Talks

For those of us trying to make sure countries have to account for emissions from cutting forests in the Copenhagen climate agreement, the European Union has been the cause of quite a bit of concern and consternation over the past year. There is a split between those countries who think any change in emissions should be counted for (e.g. France, Germany, U.K.) and those that don't (e.g. Finland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Austria). Thus, the EU has been divided and unable to take a strong position.

Earlier this week the EU Council met to define its position for the Copenhagen Climate Talks. Bad news. Those hoping that the EU could still be a progressive voice on this issue have to redouble their efforts. The EU has decided it must be conscious that some countries may need flexibility in determining the baseline against which emissions in the commitment period will be determined - translation: the EU is opening the door for countries who want to increase their emissions but erase them from the books through creative accounting.

The offending text is pasted below:
33. RECOGNIZES that future accounting rules for forest management should provide an adequate balance between further incentives for sequestration, for use of wood products and for biomass energy; STRESSES the need for future accounting rules to secure that the environmental integrity of a Copenhagen agreement is preserved; ACKNOWLEDGES that there are still difficulties associated with methodologies for measuring and predicting LULUCF GHG flows with a high degree of accuracy; WELCOMES further discussions with other Parties on accounting rules for forest management where the EU is open to discuss schemes based on the use of a reference level (bar), which includes an environmentally robust interval (band) while being CONSCIOUS that national circumstances, such as age class legacy effects, may require some flexibility for countries regarding the choice of reference level including allowing for historic data or robust and transparent projections open to independent review and verification; the use of gross-net accounting with a discount could also be considered in these discussions; CONSIDERS that accounting rules need to deal with emissions and removals associated with extreme events (force majeure) to reduce the risk that Parties cannot comply with their mitigation objectives because of such events. CONSIDERS that subject to such flexibility being provided for, accounting for forest management should become mandatory for all Parties taking on quantified commitments in a Copenhagen agreement.

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