Game of Baselines

21 June 2019

We’re back for another session of Article 6 negotiations. ECO knows that when it comes to the game of baselines, it’s time for Parties to take heed of lessons learned from the KP and other mechanisms. Otherwise, winter is coming€¦

Strong environmental integrity principles are critical for the Article 6.4 rules so that parties are prevented from gaming their baselines, and instead adopt accurate and conservative baselines. Baselines should reflect a conservative emission pathway to avoid hot air and non-additional credits in the 6.4 mechanism.

Baselines should be proposed by host countries, and approved by the Supervisory Body only if they are conservative, dynamic, and standardized. Ideally, they should be set at BAU or the level of policies incorporated into a host’s NDC, whichever is lowest. Under no circumstances should baselines be set above BAU, which would lead to the issuance of hot air credits.

In practice, ECO knows that quantifying policies in an NDC €” first at the scale of sectors, and then projects €” is challenging, and will require technical support and capacity building.  However, it is key to the principle of additionality that baselines be set at a level which takes a conservative approach to the calculation of “what would have happened otherwise,” and that they be re-set through a dynamic updating process.

The world needs ambition, and ambition means adoption of the best available technology, taking into account relevant national circumstances such as demonstrated economic barriers to adoption. Crediting replacements for the same old dirty fleet of cars or power plants isn’t just gaming, and bad for the atmosphere. ECO is also curious how Parties will apply conservative baselines if they proceed with removing brackets and start to allow removals of emissions into Article 6. There’s no “best technology” for ecosystems, and ECO has long warned Parties that BAU isn’t good enough when it comes to ensuring additionality for ecosystems.

It’s high time for Parties to stop the games and get real about baselines.

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