It is tough to spot the actual emissions reduced through the current thicket of different Annex I country pledge formats. And many countries suggest to further obscure the actual impact by including complex means of accounting for sources and sinks from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).
In the Annex I mitigation workshop on Thursday, AOSIS highlighted the potential contribution of lax LULUCF rules to the gigatonne gap, as described by UNEP. The Secretariat’s recent paper on the assumptions and conditions of Annex I Parties’ targets begins to clarify the extent to which Annex I countries will rely on the LULUCF sector to comply with their targets.
However, the question remains: which LULUCF rules are we talking about? These rules for the 2nd commitment period have not yet been decided! ECO seconds the statement made by St. Lucia on Thursday that there is a pressing need for much greater transparency regarding what assumptions Parties are using in their LULUCF accounting, and encouraging the use of common methodologies.
Targets without clear LULUCF accounting rules are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. To remedy this situation, ECO thinks Annex I Parties should take the suggestion that Colombia made in Bangkok – to submit tables showing what
their commitments would be under different accounting options, including the different options on the table for LULUCF. These tables would make the role of this sector clearer to everyone. They would also illustrate clearly which countries are relying on their forests to help meet their targets, and which Parties are expecting to use delayed accounting for wood products or the exclusion of emissions from natural disturbances in their accounting.
It is impossible to make informed decisions on targets until it is clear what rules underpin them. With the kind of clarity and transparency Colombia has requested, Parties may be able to complete the task of decision-making that they failed to finish in Cancun.