For LUCF activities undertaken under Article 3.3, net emissions are defined as the change in stocks during the first commitment period, 2008-2012. In essence, this definition specifies that, for qualifying activities, carbon stocks in 2008 are the reference against which to measure carbon sequestration by ARD during the first commitment period. This situation is the no-baseline case of Section 188.8.131.52 and the accounting rule of Table 2-3.
In keeping with the precedent set in Article 3.3, the level of carbon stocks in 2008 (or the first year of any subsequent commitment period) could be used as the reference point for that commitment period for activities under Article 3.4. This approach would give countries time to prepare the reference measure and provide a uniform and well-defined base against which to evaluate changes.
If implementation of Article 3.4 (Figure 4-5) permits credits for only a small number of narrowly defined activities that are specifically identified in time and space, this approach could have little impact on negotiated commitments. If a more comprehensive approach to carbon accounting and admission of credits for a broad range of activities (Figure 4-5) is chosen, this approach could have a significant effect on negotiated commitments.
For example, if there is a large and continuing sink for carbon in the Northern Hemisphere terrestrial biosphere-as is now generally believed (Ciais et al., 1995; Keeling et al., 1996)-and if the driving force behind this sink can be characterized as "human induced," this reference measure could open up the possibility for large numbers of carbon credits that lead to significantly less stringency in many national commitments. This concern was expressed in some national submissions prior to and following the drafting of the Kyoto Protocol. One way to address this issue would be to ensure that credits for additional activities apply only in commitment periods after the first and that negotiated commitments for subsequent periods are agreed to with clear understanding of the implications of the selected reference. Such a decision would need to interpret the last sentence of Article 3.4, which allows Parties to choose whether to use these additional activities to meet commitments during the first commitment period in a way that would permit different accounting rules in the first and subsequent commitment periods.
The Kyoto Protocol acknowledges that using stocks in 2008 as the reference could cause Parties for whom land-use change and forestry activities were a large source of emissions in 1990 to have a net debit that continues into the commitment period even though they have reduced emissions. For this reason, Article 3.7 permits some Parties to include aggregate emissions by sources less removals by sinks from land-use changes in their reference-year (1990) accounts (see also Section 184.108.40.206).
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