LULUCF on the Leading Edge of Failure

8 October 2010

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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