Tag: LULUCF

LULUCF: Moment 
of Decision

The future of Annex I forests and their role in climate change mitigation is about to be decided here in Cancun.
ECO has long highlighted how inappropriate and possibly fraudulent LULUCF accounting rules could be used by Annex I Parties to avoid accounting for their forestry emissions. This week a group of NGOs assessed the scale of these impacts, in particular, the magnitude of proposed forest management baselines relative to the ambition of Parties’ pledges. Astonishingly, the emission reduction efforts of some Parties could be reduced by up to 66% as a consequence of unaccounted emissions from logging their forests.
There is still more than one proposal on the table, and it is clear that the impact of forest management accounting on countries’ pledges will differ depending on the approach agreed upon.
A review process was proposed by developing countries earlier this year to evaluate the robustness of favoured baseline proposals by Annex I countries. The new KP Chair’s text calls on Parties to provide the required information by February 2011 and for expert reviewers to conclude their review by May.
But let’s be clear.  The impact of the proposed reference levels is unacceptable and a review won’t fix that. However, broadening the review to include an objective analysis of all accounting options could help Parties make an informed decision about which approach should be used in the second commitment period. To do this, Parties would need to provide information about each of the potential options on the table and how it will impact their pledges.
This analysis is urgently required for a meaningful discussion on numbers. That will achieve two crucial things: the discussion of ‘numbers’ will go forward with consideration of all potential options, and decisions will be made based on the likely real impacts on the climate.

 

Party Emission Reduction Pledge % 2020 Unaccounted Logging Emissions %
Canada -17 +1.4
New Zealand -10 to -20 +66.0
Norway -30 to -40 +8.7
Russian Fed -15 to -25 +5.5
Australia -5 to -15 +4.0
Japan -25 +3.6
EU -20 to -30 +2.7
Switzerland -20 to -30 +2.4

Notes: Figures are percentages of country-specific base years.  Pledged emission reductions for 2020 (rel 1990) from FCCC/KP/AWG/2010/INF.2/Rev.1.  Unaccounted logging emissions equals the difference between Party’s proposed reference levels and average of historical net emissions.  The estimate of average historical net emissions from Annex I forest management calculated using data from 1990-2008 (forest land remaining forest land) from Parties’ 2010 
inventory submissions.  Any adjustments were made on consultation with Parties and technical experts.  Japan has not yet indicated whether its pledges include accounting for forest management.

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Chris Henschel explains LULUCF

UNFCCC Tianjin Chris Henschel - Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Chris Henschel of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society explains LULUCF (Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry) and the good news and bad news of LULUCF for developing countries. 

(from OneWorld TV)

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No Time to Lose

Dearest delegates, we gather you’ve been working hard behind those mostly closed doors. But let’s face it, following the failure of Copenhagen to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding agreement, the refusal all this year to set aside differences and focus on areas of convergence may yet scupper the UNFCCC talks. At Cancun, you will bear a heavy responsibility.
If one were to believe the international media, the story of Tianjin has been a high stakes standoff between the US and China, ‘I won’t do till you do’ stalling, and negotiating paralysis. So let’s unpack that a bit.
On the one side there is the United States, the emissions superpower that so far has not submitted itself to internationally binding carbon reduction commitments, and really has to do far more than a measly 4% reduction target on 1990 levels. A commitment on long-term finance would suit the Americans much better than a tone of righteous indignation. And though it pains us to say it, as in Bali, the US should step aside if it is not able to make real commitments, and let the world conclude an ambitious deal.
On the other side, China has been working hard at home to implement a commendable low carbon vision. China could propel the negotiations forward by agreeing to international consultation and analysis of its low carbon actions.
There are, however, more than two countries in the world and every country has something to offer in the negotiations. Whilst things have not gone smoothly this week, we gather that Parties made some incremental progress. However, incremental progress does not cut it with the planet, nor will it be sufficient at Cancun.
Creating momentum requires commitment. At Cancun we need to refuel and take aim at the most ambitious level of agreement possible across all elements. Crucially, we need to map out the next important step of our journey to a fair, ambitious and binding deal in South Africa. A failure to plan our route – with a timeline, workplans and format for negotiations – will have us meandering along the dirt tracks as if we had all the time in the world, whilst climate destruction takes the fast road.
A positive development at this meeting is that negotiators have begun to grapple with the package for Cancun. The fact that a vast majority of Parties are seeking a legally binding outcome in the LCA track is self-evident.
But we are also pleased that so many Parties have expressed willingness to recommit to the Kyoto Protocol with a second commitment period. That must be crystal clear in the Cancun package.
It is essential that the stand-off in the legal matters group ends, otherwise there may be unintended consequences to the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
Parties gave assurance in Bali that there would be no gap between commitment periods. But that’s not what is happening, and carbon markets, already soft since Copenhagen, will likely weaken further.
Here are essential elements of the package to contemplate between Tianjin and Cancun:
FINANCE
Discussions on finance have focused on the establishment of a new fund under the Convention. The COP should also establish an oversight body to perform crucial functions such as ensuring coherence of the financial mechanism, coordination, and assuring a balance of funding.
We know that some countries have been working hard to bridge the divisions on these issues. At Cancun we expect that Parties will establish a Fund with democratic governance, providing direct access for developing countries, and functioning under the guidance and authority of the COP.
TECHNOLOGY
Technology often tops the lists of potential outcomes in Cancun, yet the details have remained elusive in Tianjin. The key question is the institutional arrangements of a multilateral mechanism, with the aim to scale up and speed up the use of climate friendly technologies. Here again, governance should be placed under the authority of an entity whose mission is focused on limiting warming to 1.5o C.
MITIGATION
Mitigation clearly is a most essential element of the package. Despite this, negotiators chose to dive into contention rather than seeking convergence. A focus on developed country pledges, the NAMA mechanism, as well as NAMA design, preparation and implementation took form only on Thursday.
In preparation for Cancun, Parties should replace their ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse with a willingness to agree rules that will ensure the environmental integrity of their emissions reductions.
Before Cancun, we recommend catching up on the science. Preventing dangerous climate change clearly requires more substantial emissions reductions. A balanced Cancun package will require Annex I parties to show how they are going to meet their moral obligations and to act in line with the science. We recommend acknowledging the gigatonne gap between current pledges and science based targets, and agreeing a route to South Africa that addresses ways to close the gap.
CAPACITY BUILDING
Everybody appears to agree that capacity building is both vital to success and key to movement in Cancun. The principles were well-established as early as COP 7, and developing countries (particularly LDCs, SIDs and Africa) have been clamouring for years for a dedicated capacity building framework with real resources and a genuine desire to succeed. And yet still nothing happens. How long will it take at this rate?
LULUCF
The logging industry must be thrilled at how forest negotiators mangled the
LULUCF accounting rules this week. The proposal forwarded to Cancun undermines the environmental integrity of Kyoto by hiding increases in emissions and awarding false credits to loggers.
Because so much time was spent on devising these accounting tricks, minimal
attention got paid to emissions from land-use change beyond forests – another potential loophole. The only proposal for managing forests that has any environmental integrity was given short shrift.
Furthermore, the damage this proposed decision can do to REDD accounting is not to be underestimated. To prevent another Marrakesh, the damaging impact of forest accounting on the targets will have to be addressed in the broader KP numbers discussion.
REDD
From time to time this week, the curtain has lifted on the Dante-esque world of the REDD+ Partnership. We have been mesmerised by the heroic, if misguided, struggle between the co-chairs and the rest of the world. However, we are also saddened that what could be a valuable institution has become a farce. We can only hope that things will get better.
ADAPTATION
A focused atmosphere prevailed in the adaptation talks, which are progressing on content and may eventually deliver a compromise agreement. ECO reminds parties that the adaptation framework must include operational elements and result in action on the ground.
To move forward, Cancun must clarify the functions of the adaptation committee, enable a tangible solution on loss and damage, finally put response measures back in its box, and search for balance between adaptation and mitigation funding, including a pre-allocation scheme.
 

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LULUCF: the Second Agenda

You’ve heard about all the trouble with the logging loophole in LULUCF. But there’s another important agenda on emissions from non-forest lands under the Kyoto Protocol.
Several ideas such as mandatory accounting for cropland management and grazing land management, and the introduction of a new activity category of wetland management, have languished with very little discussion. Yet Parties seem to think they are on the downhill run wrapping up LULUCF.
Emission from biofuels (processing crops and burning them as transport fuels) also risks being mostly ignored at a time when they are expected to grow rapidly as an alternative to fossil fuels.
There are issues with data availability and accuracy in accounting for these activities. But that is no excuse for deferring action in the second commitment period. One thing that can be done is to use a hotspots approach, concentrate MRV efforts on identifying the lands with the most significant sources of emissions, and estimate these activities in the most accurate and practicable way whilst commencing on a SBSTA program to introduce more comprehensive accounting.
The new rules could well make a huge amount of forest management emissions vanish through a loophole, but even worse, also fail to capture significant emissions arising from the other land use activities.
There is still time to construct a complete agenda for LULUCF rules with integrity for the next commitment period, but there is not a moment more to lose.
 

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Fossil of the Day: New Zealand

A fossil is awarded to New Zealand, as an ambassador for all Annex I Parties, for bluntly declaring that if they don’t get the rules they want on forest management, they’ll have to change their overall emission reduction target. Does this mean that the LULUCF sector is just a slush fund and Copenhagen pledges are open for renegotiation if the slush fund disappears?

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New Zealand

 

A fossil is awarded to New Zealand, as an ambassador for all Annex I Parties, for bluntly declaring that if they don’t get the rules they want on forest management, they’ll have to change their overall emission reduction target. Does this mean that the LULUCF sector is just a slush fund and Copenhagen pledges are open for renegotiation if the slush fund disappears?

Tianjin 2010 ECO 6

In this issue

  1. No time to Lose
  2. The EU Chooses
  3. LULUCF: The second agenda
  4. Fossil of the Day: New Zealand
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LULUCF on the Leading Edge of Failure

The LULUCF negotiations are heading towards the worst possible outcome for forests and are dragging down climate mitigation as a whole.  With each passing day it looks more and more likely a deal will be cut that allows developed countries to increase their annual emissions into the foreseeable future without any real accountability.  Do the national leaders who committed to ‘deep cuts’ in Copenhagen really know what is happening here in Tianjin?  Shouldn’t somebody tell them?

Yesterday Parties had a chance to consider an alternate path.  In an open session, Tuvalu proposed that countries should take responsibility if their emissions increase relative to the first commitment period.  It’s one way to create some basic accountability for changes in forest management. 

But this proposal was roundly rejected by some Annex I Parties with the excuse that it would be too politically difficult to account for these emissions in a fair manner.  The cursory treatment of Tuvalu’s proposal lasted less than an hour, leaving the distinct impression that developed countries would be happy never to discuss it again. 

The quick dismissal of viable accounting options is a travesty in light of the nearly two years wasted on developing a ‘reference levels’ approach that would allow developed countries to increase exploitation of their forests and artificially enhance their weak national targets.

And it gets even worse.  A large proportion of emissions from bioenergy, supposedly a low carbon energy source, will disappear entirely – unaccounted for while trees are harvested under weak forest management rules and counted as zero carbon in power stations.

ECO has learned not to expect much at all from the LULUCF negotiations.  But the citizens of a world increasingly threatened by climate change should reject this blatant abdication of accountability and responsibility, and demand that developed countries live up to their commitments to reduce emissions and protect and enhance forest carbon sinks.

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Stand and Deliver

Next Sunday, October 10, the day after the close of the Tianjin conference, the world will take action – over 5,000 actions, to be precise, in more than 165 countries around the globe.

The 10/10/10 Global Work Day organized by 350.org and many others will highlight the public appetite for action that has only grown stronger since Copenhagen.            

And herein lies one of the great ironies of our time.  Public support for action on climate change is mounting in every country, and yet at exactly the same time, the climate negotiations are increasingly coloured by calls for lowering expectations and questions about the credibility of the multilateral process.

There is a climate crisis, and there is a crisis of confidence in the international process. Both require urgent action. Following the stalemate of Copenhagen, this week’s meeting and the Cancun COP are critical.

Let’s not fool ourselves – a failure to
deliver now will land the UN process in a royal mess. Failure to deliver tangible
results in Cancun could well see a repeat of the WTO experience . . . meeting after
irrelevant meeting.

The Kyoto Protocol is the first needed and legally binding response. A second commitment period for the KP is one essential building block toward a fair, ambitious and binding (FAB) deal that needs to be finalized at COP 17 in South Africa.

We hear a lot in the KP discussions about the importance of ‘the other track’. ECO has no doubt on this point: only by showing good faith in the KP can Annex B parties secure progress in the LCA. They must stop stalling and commit at Cancun to the second commitment period of the KP.  It is crucial to the world’s effort to limit climate change.

Trust-building is essential.  And make no mistake, developed country leadership is central to that. The current pledges by Annex B parties and existing loopholes put us on a path that far overshoots the threshold for dangerous climate change. But all countries must show their commitment to the UN process by showing political will and flexible positions.

We must learn the lessons of Copenhagen and move beyond ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.  Reverting to the pre-Copenhagen grab bag of text is a recipe for recreating the Copenhagen stalemate.

To make real progress in Cancun, it is imperative to seek convergence and reduce the wide range of options in the text to workable proportions. That will allow for political decisions to be made at Cancun, where Parties must agree a clear mandate for a full fair, ambitious and binding deal to be concluded in South Africa.  It is no exaggeration: the credibility of this process and the fate of future generations are both at stake.

What are substantive examples of tangible progress?  Here is a starter kit to help go further and faster.

In the area of adaptation, the insurance mechanism can be put on track; a committee can start working with the most vulnerable countries on an insurance mechanism, and regional adaptation centers can be set up.

In the area of deforestation, the level of ambition should be quantified.

On finance, the governance of the new fund with a strong relationship with the Convention can be agreed, as well as the sources and scale of funding.

On mitigation, pledges should be formalized, and in doing so, the gigatonne gap needs to be recognized, and a process launched to deal with the gap.

On technology, a work programme can be agreed that empowers the committee to deliver specific technology action programs on solar concentrated power, building efficiency, and many others.

Finally, to fulfill the mandate contained in the Bali Action Plan, a decision on the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is needed. This decision should include clarity on the legal outcome to be delivered in South Africa.

This week, ECO again suggests, Parties should make offers, not demands.  The purpose here in Tianjin is not to force fouls, but to use teamwork to create a safe climate. 

Dear negotiators, we have said this before: you are the only team we have that can save the planet.

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