LULUCF Goes to the Wire

Yesterday’s KP contact group on “numbers” (emissions reductions in Annex I countries) highlighted a question that has dominated the first week of this session: is the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) debate about emission reductions – or is it about creative accounting that undermines overall ambition? The chorus in favor of requiring 
absolute reductions in net emissions from forest management is growing louder:  the Africa Group, COMIFAC, Belarus, India and now the Coalition of Rainforest Nations have all made public statements in this session supporting that goal. So far, they are being stopped cold by the brick wall of an Annex I bloc that prefers to hide increased emissions while trying somehow to create the illusion they are stopping catastrophic climate change. A graph presented in the contact group painted a very clear picture of what is going on: all Annex I Parties except one propose reference levels that either erase all debits or yield massive credits. By contrast, Switzerland chose to accept a debit, thereby creating a policy signal to improve forest carbon management. ECO wants to be clear – we’re not advocating that Annex I countries must receive debits for forest management accounting, but rather that they own up to the true carbon costs of their management activities, regardless of whether that results in credits or debits.  It’s a matter of honest accounting. It also became clear yesterday what the effect of LULUCF rules will be on overall numbers.  Annex I Parties will only take the high end of their targets if they get the LULUCF emissions loopholes that they want. The science says we need at least a 40% reduction by 2020 on 1990 emission levels; pledges on the table amount to less than 25%, and, if Annex I gets its way on the new LULUCF rule set, real reductions that the atmosphere actually sees will be substantially less. It’s time for the G77 and China to step up their demands to hold them to account, but it’s up to the developed countries to take responsibility. So, Annex I, wake up: we’re here to reduce emissions!

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