LULUCF: The Countdown Commences

3 October 2010


With Cancun looming, a push is coming to get much of LULUCF finalised here in Tianjin.  ECO cannot stress enough: it is more important than ever to get strong rules for forest management accounting. Proposals in the form of projected baselines for forest management that allow countries to increase anthropogenic emissions into the future without accounting them need to be rejected.

Avid readers will recall that ECO has been calling for emissions from forest management to be measured compared to what happened in the past — just like all other sectors – and not to uncertain futures determined by Parties. In the current text, the proposal put forward by Tuvalu is the only one that attempts to incorporate this principle, and time must be found on the agenda in Tianjin to discuss this. A methodological review, while helpful in ensuring transparency, will not bring hidden emissions back into the accounts.

Meanwhile, with so much focus on this now familiar issue, we must not lose sight of the other ways in which Parties are attempting to use accounting for their lands and forests to fiddle the system. While negotiators have been knocking heads on rules that may determine whether forest management accounting becomes mandatory (and so it must), what of the fate of the other land use activities? It remains an open question as to whether Parties will still be allowed to elect for cropland or grazing land management, or revegetation.

Additionally, crucial environmental safeguards should be maintained in accounting for natural disturbances so that when the storms come or wildfires rage, these aren’t put forward as yet another excuse for not
accounting for man-made emissions.

We are often told that LULUCF accounting with environmental integrity, while technically achievable, is not politically realistic. Dealing with dangerous climate change will be a much greater political problem than good LULUCF rules could ever be. 

And locking in loopholes in the climate accounting is the last thing that should be on negotiators’ minds.

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