Probably the last LULUCF Article Ever?

In Cancun, Parties finally acknowledged that Annex I targets must not be set in isolation from a thorough analysis of the loopholes threatening to undermine them. ECO would applaud this accomplishment, were it not such an obvious step to take. The UNEP Emissions Gap report, the Climate Analytics/Ecofys analysis and consistent NGO campaigning all shone a bright spotlight on the damage that undercounting of emissions can do to achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention.
 Indeed, in the Cancun texts, Parties acknowledge there is a most urgent need not only to increase ambition, but to characterize and quantify the effect of key loopholes, especially land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) rules, the project-based mechanisms and a possible carry-over of assigned amount units.  Could that acknowledgement signal the beginning of the end of technical LULUCF ECO articles (and proper accounting of emissions)?
 Mind you, ECO feels your pain at the thought of yet another article on LULUCF, but alas, the need still remains. The proposed reference level approach simply does not reflect the ambition needed to address climate change, nor does it secure a positive contribution toward the emission cuts required. Forests and other land uses must be a major part of the solution, and yet the proposed rules move things in the opposite direction. ECO remains no less than astonished that while all other sectors are expected to reduce emissions, the forest sector gets a free pass, since Parties could set their reference levels allowing increased emissions with no effect on their overall targets.
Even worse is the fact that the bulk of emissions from bioenergy, a sector poised for exponential growth, will go completely unaccounted for. Moreover, while the favoured forest fiddle is relatively well defined, Parties have yet to fully elaborate the rules for other land uses such as cropland and grazing land management, as well as rewetting and drainage. Yet, in aggregate, these are nearly as significant as forest emissions. Finally, Parties have fallen short of moving towards full mandatory accounting whilst resolving any data issues that stand in the way.
The reference level approach to forest management may be appealing in a narrow political sense, but in fact it undermines ambition in the forest and land sectors and significantly weakens overall mitigation. It is not just the proposed forest management reference levels of Parties that need to be scrutinized, but the overall political direction of the LULUCF negotiations, which in turn are sapping the momentum of the overall Annex I "numbers" discussions.
It's time for delegation leaders here and now to focus attention, face up to the LULUCF loophole, turn around the momentum and starting closing the gigatonne gap. Durban is not far off at all, and to capture real ambition then means starting now in Bangkok. Could this be the year of our last LULUCF article? The ECO Ed Board (and perhaps you kind readers) can only hope. You can help us achieve that goal, esteemed delegation leaders.

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