Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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Under Article 5.2 of the Kyoto Protocol (see Box 6-1), the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (Guidelines) provide the basis for estimating and reporting anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Box 6-1. Article 5.2 of the Kyoto Protocol
Methodologies for estimating anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol shall be those accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and agreed upon by the Conference of the Parties at its third session. Where such methodologies are not used, appropriate adjustments shall be applied according to methodologies agreed upon by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol at its first session. Based on the work of, inter alia, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and advice provided by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol shall regularly review and, as appropriate, revise such methodologies and adjustments, taking fully into account any relevant decisions by the Conference of the Parties. Any revision to methodologies or adjustments shall be used only for the purposes of ascertaining compliance with commitments under Article 3 in respect of any commitment period adopted subsequent to that revision.

Annex A of the Protocol lists all sectors from the Guidelines that may be used to meet commitments (Article 3.1), with the exception of land-use change and forestry (LUCF). The LUCF sector is excluded from Annex A because the accounting rules for this sector are yet to be defined by Parties. However, Article 3 refers to the potential use of agricultural soils and LUCF.

The Guidelines were developed to report national greenhouse gas inventories under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), not the Protocol. Depending on decisions made by Parties, it is likely that improvements to the Guidelines will be needed to estimate and report GHGs, stock changes, and associated activities. This chapter suggests options for improving the Guidelines in relation to the verifiability and transparency of reported data.

The IPCC Guidelines consist of three volumes: the Reference Manual, the Workbook, and the Reporting Instructions. To analyze their adequacy for reporting under the Protocol, there is a need to distinguish between them. The desired principles of these inventory guidelines include completeness, comparability, transparency, and accuracy. The UNFCCC has developed reporting guidelines for National Communications of Annex I Parties, which are based on the IPCC Guidelines.

The Workbook contributes to comparability and transparency by virtue of a common, simplified approach. It is also helpful when there are limitations of expertise and data. To improve accuracy, however, country-specific data and more elaborate methods, such as those described in the Reference Manual, may be required. The Workbook encourages the use of national data but provides default data because the methods were designed for use by all Parties. The use of national data is likely to increase the accuracy of estimates of emissions and removals of GHGs, changes in carbon stocks, and their associated activities. This increased accuracy could be important for compliance under the Protocol.

The Reference Manual provides a comprehensive approach to carbon accounting (by covering all of the main land-use change and forestry activities). The Reference Manual mentions all pools and encourages countries to undertake comprehensive accounting of carbon pools affected by anthropogenic activities in relation to LUCF. The Guidelines do not differentiate, however, between direct human-induced activities and indirect human activities (e.g., atmospheric CO2 fertilization or nutrient deposition).

With the Reference Manual, it is feasible to estimate national changes in aboveground and below-ground biomass, soil, soil surface litter, and harvested wood products for all forests, shrublands, grasslands, and agricultural lands. For countries in which the change in stocks of forest products is significant, the Reference Manual recommends that the products pool be reported.

The underlying principles of national accounting for GHG emissions and removals in the Reference Manual are the same as those applied in the Workbook. The Workbook contains accounting methods and default data for a subset of carbon pools, such as aboveground biomass and carbon in the top 0.3 m of the soil. The Workbook does not give explicit methods for other pools, including below-ground biomass, harvested wood products, or deep soil carbon. For the treatment of wood products, the Workbook assumes that the stock of forest products is not increasing significantly in most countries. Hence, carbon accounting for wood products is not required, although the amount of wood harvested for biofuels is necessary for countries to estimate non-CO2 gases from combustion and report these emissions in the energy sector. The accounting methods in the Workbook may need to be improved to directly link changes in soil carbon and other pools with the activities that cause these changes.

The Reporting Instructions provide a range of definitions for anthropogenic activities, a glossary of terms, and tables to report anthropogenic emissions and removals of GHGs. These tables are flexible enough to allow for reporting of all carbon pools, even if the accounting methods and default data are not provided by the Guidelines. This flexibility in reporting contributes to inventory completeness, though not necessarily comparability.

Under the Protocol, if emissions and removals of GHGs resulting from land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) are to assist Annex B Parties in meeting their commitments, the Guidelines must provide a basis for transparent and verifiable reporting. In addition, there are other potential requirements:

Many of the issues discussed in this chapter are not unique to the LUCF sector, including uncertainties, transparency, and verifiability. Generally, the level of uncertainty may be inherently higher for all GHG emissions associated with biological systems than the level of uncertainty for emissions associated with energy and industrial systems. These uncertainties can be reduced, however, through scientific and technological developments, as well as improvements in data collection and analysis. Parties would need to consider the tradeoffs between improved accuracy of data, transparency, verifiability, and costs. An underlying principle of the Guidelines, however, is the consistent treatment and reporting of uncertainties of GHGs among all sectors.

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