ECO just found (under a delegates desk) the draft final decision on LULUCF for Durban. In the interest of full transparency, we reproduce it here.

Decision -/CMP.7

Land use, land use change and forestry

Acknowledgingthat we have been working on this subject far too long and may have lost all sense of proportion,

Recallingthat we made a real mess of this last time as well,

Affirmingthe need to generate credits and hide debits from LULUCF activities,

Recognisingthe need to change jargon frequently, as with force majeure natural disturbance,

Hidingforest management emissions beneath unrealistically inflated reference level projections,

ForgettingArticle 4, paragraph 2 (a) of the Convention, which states that “Each of these [Annex I] Parties shall adopt nationalpolicies and take corresponding measures to mitigate climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs,”

Overlookingthe urgent need to reduce emissions in all sectors,

Underminingthe ultimate objective of the Convention,

Wonderingif we will get away with this,

Decidesthat each Party in Annex B can account for LULUCF activities however it likes,

Further decidesthat other Parties shall not use this transparent accounting scam as an excuse to fiddle their own LULUCF or REDD accounting .


LULUCF…hoo Wow!!!

Mamady Kobele Keita
Climate change team leader
Guinee Ecologie

During the June session in Bonn, I have been working on Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) and it’s amazing to see how most of the participants consider this issue. You are likely to hear  “Hoo wow, LULUCF?”, “this is not our concern”, “no it’s for Annex 1 countries only”, “I have a limited knowledge on the issue”, “ if you know more about it, please help me to understand”, “it’s definitely too complicated for me”, “ I have no idea about it”. This “staying far from LULUCF” does allow parties to understand the issue and accordingly take responsibility for their parts.

Why is CAN-International paying close attention to LULUCF and why should non-Annex 1 parties be interested in the LULUCF issue? Because under the current provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, Annex 1 parties can hide their emissions from forest management, thus earning more credits while emitting at least 400 Mt of CO2 annually. Just like in other sectors, all emissions should be accounted for and all related consequences addressed.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is clear on the issue in the following provisions:
Article 3, paragraph 1:  “The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”
Article 4, paragraph (a): …Parties shall (a) Develop, periodically update, publish and make available to the Conference of the Parties, in accordance with Article 12, national inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, using comparable methodologies to be agreed upon by the Conference of the Parties”

Although inviting Annex 1 parties to reduce their overall emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012, the Kyoto protocol limits direct human-induced land-use change and forestry activities to afforestation, reforestation and deforestation, excluding in the same time activities related to forest management.

The LULUCF working group within CAN-International has summarized the issue:

•    LULUCF is a set of rules determining how Annex I Parties account for emissions from their land and forests.
•    Currently it is mandatory to account for afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation, while it is voluntary to account for forest management, grazing land management, cropland management, and revegetation.
•    In the first commitment period, the voluntary nature of accounting is being exploited by Annex I Parties to obtain credits without accounting for debits. In the second commitment period, Annex I Parties are trying to change the rules to avoid accounting for increased emissions. Either way, LULUCF is being used to falsely exaggerate emission reductions.
•    Reports and analysis by the European Commission, the Stockholm Institute, the Postdam Institute, UNEP and CAN’s own analysis have all highlighted that LULUCF rules are playing a significant role in undermining Annex 1 mitigation efforts and contributing to the “Gigatonne Gap” between ambition in this process and what the science requires for addressing climate change.
•    LULUCF could, however, be a source of real mitigation action.

As you can see, it’s really important for all parties, especially non-Annex 1 parties to fully consider this issue and keep following it. During the last Bonn session, our group wanted parties to consider the introduction of a paragraph on review process in future agreed documents. We really expect for Durban to see LULUCF rules that increase accountability and strengthen the level of ambition of developed countries so that forestry and land use sectors deliver emissions reductions. This will only be possible when non-Annex 1 parties take their responsibility on the issue and act in the way that allows a review in the LULUCF accounting rules. Otherwise, the second commitment period, starting in 2013 and called by these non-Annex 1 parties, will not deliver as expected.


LULUCF Briefing - Bioenergy

Under international accounting rules significant emissions from bioenergy are not being accounted for, meaning that bioenergy is not fulfilling its potential as a climate mitigation tool and in some cases emits more carbon than fossil fuels. This briefing explores the reasons for this accounting failure and what must be done to resolve this issue.


Umbrella Series Part 4: Here Comes the Russian Swan Song!

In Bangkok, Russia presented its different baselines and scenarios of Russian greenhouse gas emissions. These scenarios vary from an unrealistically fast economic growth based on old carbon technologies leading to a 14% emission reduction by 2020, to a more reasonable scenario with greenhouse gas emissions at -28% at 2020. While challenging, this ambitious scenario could be achieved through energy savings and energy efficiency measures, but the real Russian puzzle was not revealed in Bangkok.

 What Russia did not say was that these scenarios exclude any contributions from LULUCF and AAU carry over. That is, Russia already assumes that it will not carry forward its existing hot air (ECO and the atmosphere say thank you Russia!), and accepts that the reduction potential is noticeably bigger through reductions in the LULUCF sector.

In 2009, Russian greenhouse gas emissions without LULUCF were at -35%, but with LULUCF Russia was at -59% from 1990 levels! ECO believes that Russia should raise its emission reduction commitment to a minimum of -25% by 2020 -- without LULUCF and AAU carry-over. Including LULUCF, emission reductions targets for Russia could increase to at least -40% by 2020.

If this does not happen, we will see Russia, together with Ukraine and Belarus, undermining the environmental integrity of global action on climate change.

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Does Anyone think that there is no gap?

Hearing no objection it is so decided. So can ECO take it then, that, thanks to the challenging question by the European Union in Thursday’s workshop on developed country mitigation pledges, there is universal agreement that there is a gap? Fine.

So let’s move to the next step: looking at ways to increase ambition (to close the said gap), which was among the agreed purposes of the workshop, yet tacitly but plainly avoided by most developed country presenters. The European Union, at least, made a good faith attempt on the issue, and, yes, including more gases and sectors is among the things to look at. Yet ECO missed a slide explaining what the MRV- able conditions the EU has to move to (at least!) a 30% target. Instead, we were slightly amused when told that even the 20% target would be hard work. ECO reminds Parties that current EU legislation allows for more than half of the effort needed between 2013 and 2020 to be covered by carbon offsets instead of domestic action. That would also mean that with current emission levels (-16% below 1990 levels), no more domestic action is needed until 2020.

Yet, ECO’s readers will know the story of the one-eyed among the blind. Canada merrily implied that its pathetic target be comparable to the EU’s (considering that Canada is suggesting an increase over 1990 levels), and smartly dodged the question by a delegate how a target that is even weaker than its current Kyoto target could possibly constitute progress towards meeting the 1.5°C/2°C challenge. Canada’s Southern neighbours had, likewise, not much to offer, except maybe the notion that one needn’t be worried about the gap now because the review could maybe fix it later. ECO wonders if the US understands that leaving the gap unaddressed now, will require very, very steep reductions to make up for the delay, and if the US will be the country to champion that.

Delegates planning to attend today’s spin- off groups on developed country mitigation might want to keep in mind the conclusion by the co-chairs at the end of the workshop: that there is a gap, that there is some resolve to address it, and that further work needs to be done. ECO couldn’t agree more and suggests a four step approach for today’s informal sessions: (1) Developed countries make clear what their net domestic emissions will be in 2020; (2) Parties agree to close the loopholes by Durban, e.g. on hot air or carbon offset use, and have Parties not use bogus LULUCF projections meant to hide emissions but use historic reference levels and cover all emissions (see separate article in this issue); (3) Developed countries move to the high end of their pledges, by Durban, as a first important step; and (4) begin addressing the remaining gigatonne gap, by recognizing its size and a firm resolve in Durban to close it through a fair sharing of the globally needed mitigation effort, based on responsibility for emissions and capability to cut them.

And now: it is so decided!

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LULUCF Rules… Which Rules?

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.

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CAN intervention - Opening AWG-KP Plenary - June 7, 2011

Thank you Mr Chair,
Distinguished delegates,
My name is Maike Pilitati. I’ll speak on behalf of the Climate Action Network.
As CAN has consistently emphasized, the Kyoto Protocol is important to help close the
gigatonne gap between your pledges and what is needed for the well-below 2C ambition that
YOU have agreed – let alone the 1.5C limit that is more consistent with the ultimate objective of
the Convention.
The gigatonne gap can be addressed through the KP in 2 key ways:
First, developed countries need to increase their pledges. Currently we only have 12-18%
reductions from 1990 levels – and that meager offer is from the group of countries legally
obliged to “take the lead” to avoid climate catastrophe. But even if developed countries move to
the high end of their pledges, this will not get us anywhere near the 25-40% IPCC range required
to limit warming even to 2.0-2.4C increases. We simply don’t understand: why are developed
countries, by dragging their feet now, choosing to put themselves on a more expensive and less
efficient path to decarbonization? QELROs are meant to drive domestic transformation to a low
carbon economy.
Second, CAN reminds delegates that, as the current economic crisis shows, dodgy accounting
leads to collapse. Developed countries are merrily using smoke and mirrors to undermine their
low ambition even further through proposing ever more loopholes, – leading us to a 3, 4 – or
more – degree world. And you all know what that means for all of us. Let us be clear: what the
atmosphere sees is what counts.  
Distinguished delegates, In Bonn you need to clarify the assumptions underlying your pledges on
domestic action, LULUCF accounting, hot air carry over and offset use. That would help us to
build on Kyoto’s existing common accounting framework and agree QELROs that are fair and
adequately ambitious.
Thank you Mr Chair.

Lies and NZ Statistics

Delegates will be fascinated to discover that New Zealand won’t release its forestry emission and removal projections to NZ NGOs so that it can “avoid prejudice to the substantial economic interests of NZ,” and “enable the Minister to carry on without prejudice, or disadvantage, negotiations.”

This raises the question of what forestry projections has New Zealand been providing to Parties in the UNFCCC negotiations these past couple of years? Perhaps New Zealand’s Minister of Climate Change Negotiations hides the real figures in his briefcase while his officials hand out merry works of fiction to fellow delegates.  ECO encourages readers to enquire for clear information from the NZ delegation on its LULUCF assumptions (and while you’re at it, you might want to ask about the substantive amounts of offsetting that is core to New Zealand’s positioning).

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