LULUCF: Are We Outraged Yet?

One of the most important principles in the climate negotiations is that of common but differentiated responsibilities. CBDR means that while it is everyone’s job to reduce emissions, Annex I Parties have the lion’s share of historical emissions and therefore should demonstrate leadership with more ambitious emission reductions.

Specifically, to have a chance of keeping warming below 2° C, Annex I Parties must reduce emissions 40% or more below 1990 levels by 2020, while developing countries should begin low-carbon development that rapidly diverges from their likely business-as-usual (BAU) emissions.

How on earth, then, do Annex I Parties justify accounting for their forest industry emissions against BAU levels, and not a much more ambitious benchmark. And as you might have guessed, it’s even worse – many of these proposed BAU reference levels are inflated to hide future emissions increases, and so are worse than “real” BAU.

How is it that Annex I ministers and heads of delegation have allowed a whole sector to avoid contributing a fair share of ambition? Seriously, this isn’t some obscure technical issue. It’s a basic point about whether the forest sector is helping to solve the problem or is just a free-loader.

Furthermore, how hypocritical is it for Annex I Parties to set forest reference levels with no ambition for themselves, and then include calls for ambition in their recent submissions on the evolving REDD+ mechanism?

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!

And yet there is still time here in Durban and there are better options in the LULUCF text. These options may not be perfect, but they are better than Annex I countries’ wholly unacceptable projected BAU reference levels.

Come on, LULUCF negotiators and heads of delegations! It’s not enough to deliver a set of rules everyone can agree on. These rules must neither undermine the integrity of the KP nor set damaging precedents that could see ambition undermined in other areas. Clearly they must deliver for the climate – and time is running out!

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