The term "full carbon accounting" can be used to imply complete accounting for changes in carbon stocks across all carbon pools, landscape units, and time periods. In this Special Report, "full carbon accounting" means complete accounting of stock changes in all carbon pools related to a given set of landscape units in a given time period. When complete coverage over the landscape and/or time is intended, that interpretation will be stated explicitly. Note that a carbon pool (e.g., forest products) can be related to a landscape unit without being physically located on the site. Policy options to account for these wood product pools are discussed in Section 6.2.2.
The land-based accounting rule in Table 2-3 can capture full carbon accounting over pools, landscape units, and time as a special case in which the summation covers all carbon pools and all landscape units, and contiguous commitment periods extend into the indefinite future. The Kyoto Protocol, on the other hand, mandates that accounting be restricted to certain "human-induced" activities. Full carbon accounting over pools and time could nonetheless be applied to landscape units that constitute Kyoto land by virtue of being subject to specified human-induced activities.
There is a 17-year gap between the end of the base year (1990) and the beginning of the first year of the first commitment period (2008). Although any relevant LULUCF activities that occur during that time span would enter into the Kyoto accounting system, the effect of those activities is confined to impacts on carbon stocks during the 2008-2012 commitment period. This situation raises the possibility that a Party could draw down carbon stocks prior to the commitment period (e.g., through forest clearing) and later obtain credit for carbon accumulated during the first and future commitment periods on forests established after 1990 (Schlamadinger and Marland, 1998). Conversely, for land forested after 1990 and harvested during a commitment period, the debits from the stock decrease could exceed the previously earned credits because stock increases prior to 2008 would not be counted. Options for addressing these situations are discussed in Chapter 3. Similar situations could arise if future commitment periods are not contiguous.
The accounting rules described here focus only on emissions and removals of CO2, which can be measured as changes in carbon stocks. Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from many land-use activities are included in Annex A of the Kyoto Protocol and therefore will be captured in the national inventories of Annex I Parties. Emissions of these gases related to forestry activities may not be captured, however. As described in Chapter 1, forestry activities can affect emissions and removals of methane and nitrous oxide. If these effects are not considered, the full impact of forestry activities may not be reflected in the Kyoto accounting system. Similarly, to accurately assess the climate benefits of projects in non-Annex I Parties, changes in methane and nitrous oxide emissions/removals would have to be considered explicitly.
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