Article 3 paragraph 3 and paragraph 4 of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) allow parties to use credits from land-based activities for offsetting their emission reduction/limitation target committed in the KP. Forest management (FM) is the dominant activity accounted by Annex I parties of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change in the first commitment period of KP (2008–2012). Data reported for 2008 and 2009 indicate that over half of the emission reduction target of 24 Annex I parties that expect to use FM removals can be offset by FM credits in the first commitment period. Especially the majority of the emission reduction target of Slovenia, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Japan, and Croatia may be achieved through FM credits. The total FM CAP as contained in decision 16/CMP.1 in the first commitment period was over-estimated significantly by 50% for all KP parties and 36% for parties that elected FM. Some parties such as Russia, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland that elected FM activity may benefit largely from the over-estimated CAP. Presuming a significant increase of the harvest rate, the FM reference level (FMRL) for 2013–2020 is only 1/5 of the historical mean value of FM removals even though most parties show an increasing or a steady trend of net removals from 1990 to 2009. As a result Annex I parties would be able to use FM credits in the future that are over 4 times of FM CAP in the first commitment period. This potential FM credit would account for 7.7% of total emissions by sources without land use, land-use change and forestry activities (LULUCF) in the base year or 1990, and more Annex I parties would share the “benefit” from the FMRL accounting approach.
forest management ; reference level ; credits ; Kyoto Protocol
Article 3 paragraph 4 (Art 3.4) of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) allows parties to the KP to use credits from additional human-induced activities related to changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sources and removals by sinks in the agricultural soils and the landuse change and forestry categories that have taken place since 1990 to be added to, or subtracted from, the assigned amounts for parties included in Annex I. Forest management (FM) is one of the eligible activities under the Art 3.4 that the Annex I parties may choose, as contained in the annex to decision 16/CMP.1 which set definitions, modalities, rules and guidelines relating to land use, land-use change and forestry activities (LULUCF) under the KP, including those for FM activities [ UNFCCC, 2005 ]. Over a half of the first commitment period (2008–2012) has passed and the latest KP LULUCF data for the year 2008 and 2009 have been submitted by respective KP parties. In the negotiation for the KP second commitment period since 2005, LULUCF negotiation have proceeded very slowly and the FM accounting rules have been one of the main bottlenecks. Decision 2/CMP.6 requested each Annex I party to submit to the secretariat, by 28 February 2011, information on the FM reference level (FMRL) that shall be subject to a technical assessment by a review team in accordance with relevant guidelines as outlined in the Appendix II to this decision [UNFCCC, 2010a]. It is most likely that the FMRL will be an approach for FM accounting in case the agreement of KP second commitment period can be achieved. Questions arising are how much FM credits the Annex I parties are expected to use for the compliance of the KP first commitment period based on submitted KP LULUCF data for the period 2008–2009, and what is the implication of FMRL for the KP second commitment period. This paper collected latest relevant information submitted by Annex I parties and tried to answer the questions.
Data used for the analyses include national GHG inventory for 1990–2009 reported in 2011 by Annex I parties including common reporting format (CRF) and national inventory report (NIR)① and the FMRL submitted by Annex I parties in 2011 as requested by the decision 2/CMP.6② .
In 2008 and 2009, 24 Annex I parties are expected to account for 246 million tons of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2 -eq) per year in average from FM activity, which amount 2.32% of the total emissions by sources without LULUCF of these parties in the base year. This includes 34.6 Mt CO2 -eq for offsetting the net emissions under Art 3.3 of 12 parties based on paragraph 10 of annex to decision 16/CMP.1, and 212 Mt CO2 -eq for elected FM activity of 24 parties in terms of paragraph 11 of annex to decision 16/CMP.1. Other Annex I parties are not subject to account for FM credits (they did not elect FM). The total quantified emission reduction target of these 24 parties is calculated as 4.38% of the emissions in the base year according to Annex B of the KP. Assuming that the mean annual FM credits for 2010–2012 remain at the same level as 2008–2009, this implies that the FM credits may contribute to 53% of the emission reduction target.
The contribution of FM credits varies from party to party. The FM credit of Slovenia is expected to account for 7.72% of its emissions by sources in the base year which means that almost all emission reduction target (8%) can be offset by FM credit in case the same level of FM credits can be achieved in 2010–2012. Similarly, FM credits of Sweden, Latvia, and Finland are expected to offset around 80% of their committed emission reduction target (8% of emissions in base year), and it is 65% for Japan, 62% for Croatia, 30% for Lithuania, 24% for Italy, 22% for Switzerland, and 8% for the European Union (15 member states). Russia committed zero emission reduction in the commitment period, but its FM credits are expected to allow it to increase 4.11% of emissions by sources compared to the base year (Table 1 ).
|Party||FM GHG emission/removalsa||Offseting net emissions under Art 3.3 by FM removalsb||Accountable credits of FM activityc||Total FM credit expected to be used||National emissions by sources in 1990 or base yeard||Percentage of FM credits in total emissions by sources in 1990 or base year|
|European Union (15)||–273,904||28,490||28,490||4,263,716||0.67%|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||–10,254||1,357||1,357||779,387||0.17%|
a. The mean value of 2008 and 2009 reported by parties in 2011. Blank indicates that the party did not elect FM. Minus represents net removals by sinks and plus means emissions by sources
b. Calculated based on paragraph 10 of annex to decision 16/CMP.1
c. Calculated based on paragraph 11 of annex to decision 16/CMP.1
d. Excluding LULUCF
To exclude removals resulting from elevated CO2 concentrations above their pre-industrial level, indirect nitrogen deposition and the dynamic effects of age structure resulting from activities and practices before the reference year, paragraph 11 and appendix in annex to the decision 16/CMP.1 set a CAP for the FM credits that each Annex I parties is allowed to add to and subtract from the assigned amount of a party resulting from FM activity. The CAP was determined by the application of an 85% discount factor and a 3% CAP on FM, using a combination of data provided by parties and by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, as well as a consideration of national circumstances [ UNFCCC, 2005 ]. Applying true values of FM removals in 2008 and 2009 submitted by each party in 2011 (for parties that did not elect FM in the first commitment period, emissions/removals for forest land remaining forest land are used), we found that the total FM CAP for all KP parties in the first commitment period was over-estimated by around 50%. FM CAP of 15 parties were over-estimated, including Canada by 10 times, Switzerland by 12 times, Japan by 5.7 times, Slovakia by 4.4 times, Hungary by 2 times, and Russia, Lithuania, Germany, Czech, and Italy by 59%, 56%, 48%, 44%, and 36%, respectively. New Zealand’s FM was a net emission of 0.42 Mt C per year in 2008–2009 compared to a net removal CAP of 0.20 Mt C. When only parties that elected FM are accounted for, FM CAP is over-estimated by 36% or 15.70 Mt C per year.
However not all parties with over-estimated FM CAP get benefit in the first commitment period as some of these parties did not elect FM activities. Russia and Japan would get benefit as high as 12.2 Mt C per year and 10.94 Mt C per year respectively, followed by Italy (0.74 Mt C per year), Germany (0.40 Mt C per year), Switzerland (0.21 Mt C per year), Hungary (0.19 Mt C per year), etc. Switzerland and Japan are able to use all their FM removals. Russia, Japan, and Italy are coincidently the parties that raised their CAP after the Marrakech Accord. Fortunately, the FM CAP of 23 parties was under-estimated as compared to existing FM removals by a 85% discount factor (Table 2 ).
|Party||FM CAP in appendix of decision 16/CMP.1||True values of removals of FM or forest land remaining forest land in 2008 and 2009a||Values after applying 85% discount factor|
|European Union (15)||7.77||–74.70||–11.21|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||0.37||–2.80||–0.42|
|Total of all parties||72.74||–323.53||–48.59|
|Total of parties that elected FM||58.83||–287.52||–43.13|
a. Data in bold are mean emissions/removals for forest land remaining forest land in 2008 and 2009 as these parties did not elect and report FM. Minus represents removals and plus represents emissions
Forest land remaining forest land (FL-FL), a land use category under the national GHG inventory reported to UNFCCC that basically represents FM land, showed an increasing net removal from 1990 to 2009, with a mean annual value of 1,166 Mt CO2 (excluding Canada). However, due to the increasing harvest rate presumed by most parties, FMRL for 2013–2020 submitted by Annex I parties show only a removal of 252 Mt CO2 -eq (excluding Canada), accounting for 21.6% of FL-FL CO2 removals (Fig. 1 ). This percentage is only 0.5% for Australia, 4.1% for Germany, 6.4% for Ireland, 9.8% for Slovakia, 13.3% for Austria, and 56.8% for European Union 15 member states. FL-FL of most parties historically shows increasing trend of net removals (such as Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, European Union 15, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, and United Kingdom) or no obvious decreasing trend (such as Australia, Belgium, Hungary, Japan, Slovakia). FL-FL in Russia historically showed huge and increasing net removals with an annual mean value of 488 Mt CO2 -eq, but FMRL is set as a net emission of 94.7 Mt CO2 -eq. Similarly, Japan sets its FMRL as zero compared to a huge historical net FL-FL removals (87.4 Mt CO2 -eq per year). The FMRL of New Zealand is set as an emission of 11.15 Mt CO2 -eq per year, which is 7 times of its mean annual emission for FL-FL 1990–2009. Only a few parties to the KP such as Belarus, France, Iceland, and Spain have set their FMRL as net removals that are a bit higher than historical mean annual FL-FL removals (Table 3 ).
FMRL relative to historic emissions/removals of FL-FL in Annex I parties (minus represents net removals)
|Party||FL-FL mean emissions/removals 1990–2009 (Mt CO2 -eq per year)||FMRL 2013–2020||Potential FM credit for 2013–2020||Submitted emission reduction target relative to 1990|
|(Mt CO2 -eq per year)||Percent of FL-FL emissions/removals||(Mt CO2 -eq per year)||Percent of national emissions without LULUCF in base year|
|UK & Northern||–9.3||–3.442||36.8%||5.907||0.8%|
a. Canada was excluded from the analysis because its FMRL submission includes carbon stock changes in harvest wood product that could not be separated from total FMRL
b. Emission reduction relative to 2000
Under the reality of increasing or steady historical FL-FL removals of Annex I parties as a whole or most of the individual party, assuming that the FM emissions/removals for 2013–2020 keep at the same level as the mean value in 1990–2009, expected FM credits relative to FMRL are up to 919 Mt CO2 -eq per year for all Annex I parties in 2013–2020, accounting for 7.7% of total emissions by sources without LULUCF in the base year or 1990. This credit is 4 times that of the FM CAP set for the first commitment period. In case that gross emission reduction is 20%, over 1/3 of the emission reduction target would be offset by FM credit. Russia is expected to get 583 Mt CO2 -eq per year or 63% out of the total FM credits of all parties, amounting 17.4% of its emissions by sources in 1990. Compared to the 15%–25% of emission reduction submitted by Russia [ UNFCCC, 2011b ], most or all of its emission reduction target would be offset. Excluding Russia and Canada, FM credits would amount to 3.9% of total emissions by sources in 1990 or base year.
FM credits of Norway are expected to account for 20.3% of its total emission by sources in 1990 and offset 1/2–2/3 of its submitted emission reduction target (30%–40% reduction relative to 1990). Japan, by a zero FMRL, would get FM credits worth 87 Mt CO2 -eq per year that would offset 29% of its submitted emission reduction target (25% reduction relative to 1990). FM credits of New Zealand are expected to account for 16.2% of its total emission by sources in 1990 and would offset 54%–81% of its submitted emission reduction target (20%–30% reduction relative to 1990).
CO2 removals by sinks from afforestation and reforestation are very limited for Annex I parties. Many parties to the KP are even unable to offset emissions by sources from deforestation, resulting in net emissions under Art 3.3 as a whole. Similarly, except FM, all other Art 3.4 activities are expected to contribute very limited credits for KP compliance because few parties elected these activities and “net-net” accounting rule (net GHG emissions/removals in commitment period minus those in the base year or 1990) is applied. However, existing managed forest since 1990, with its huge CO2 removals, provides an opportunity for parties to offset their emissions by sources by defining specific accounting rules, as a result to reduce emission mitigation efforts in source sectors.
Data in the first two years (2008–2009) of the first commitment period of the KP indicates that FM credits from 24 Annex I parties account for 2.32% of total emissions by sources without LULUCF in the base year, compared to 4.38% of emission reduction target. This implies a contribution to over a half of the emission reduction target. The contribution of FM credits in Slovenia, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Japan, and Croatia is above the average level. The total FM CAP for all KP parties in the first commitment period was over-estimated by 50%. Some parties that elected FM activity would benefit from the over-estimated CAP, such as Japan (10.94 Mt C per year), Italy (0.74 Mt C per year), Germany (0.40 Mt C per year), Switzerland (0.21 Mt C per year), Hungary (0.19 Mt C per year), etc.
By presuming a significant increase of the harvest rate, FMRL for 2013–2020 submitted by Annex I parties is about 1/5 of the historical mean value of FM removals, even though most parties show an increasing or steady trend of net removals from 1990 to 2009. This would create a huge amount of FM credits for the second commitment period. Assuming FM removals/emissions keep at the same level as historic mean value, we found that potential FM credits relative to FMRL would be over 4 times that of FM CAP for the first commitment period that has been significantly over-estimated. This FM credits would account for 7.7% of total emissions by sources without LULUCF in the base year or 1990. In addition to parties that are expected to get unreasonable benefits from FM activity in the first commitment, more Annex I parties would join the group sharing the potential “benefit” by creating a bigger loophole for FM accounting rule.
This work is supported by Integrated Monitoring and Assessment on Carbon Sequestration Potential of Terrestrial Ecosystem in China (No. XDA05050602).
Received: 19 August 2011