Industrialised countries have come to Copenhagen with a plan to weaken their national targets through LULUCF loopholes. They spurn the idea that they should have to account for increased emissions from forest management.
Instead of accounting for increased emissions from a historical level, as is done for all other sectors, industrialised countries are saying they will not account for emission increases as long as they are planned, i.e. business-as-usual.
This is like saying countries will not account for emissions from new coal-fired power plants as long as their construction is ‘business-as-usual.’
Australia, Canada and New Zealand have explicitly expressed their intent to increase forest harvest and therefore emissions. Many European countries may be doing the same, but the EU – at this crucial moment – has failed to even describe what they are calling ‘business-as-usual,’ undermining the transparency of LULUCF negotiations. Japan is addicted to the credits it gets from the current forest management rules and so has artificially created the same outcome here, even though its forest sink is declining. The end-result is that an amount of emissions roughly equal to half of the total Kyoto emissions reduction target for the first commitment period will not be accounted for.
Some countries have proposed to account for actual changes in emissions. Norway and Russia have both proposed 1990 as a base year to account for actual changes in emissions. However, both benefit from this choice and would earn credits.
ECO sees only one possible leader in this mess. Switzerland appears to be the only Party that has not proposed an optimal baseline for itself, forecasting a net increase in emissions that it will actually account for. It is a sad statement that such a fundamental gesture in a climate agreement must be taken as leadership.
Photo courtesy of Nosha.