COP 7   29/10 - 9/11 2001 MARRAKESH, MOROCCO



printer friendly version

Land use, land-use change and forestry under the Kyoto Protocol: Carbon "sinks"

Under the Kyoto Protocol, certain human-induced activities in the land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (known as carbon "sinks"), namely afforestation, reforestation and tackling deforestation, may be used by Annex I Parties to offset their emission targets. Conversely, changes in these activities that deplete carbon "sinks" (e.g. an increase in deforestation) will be subtracted from the amount of emissions that an Annex I Party may emit over its commitment period (Article 3.3). In addition, Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol states that additional human-induced activities in the agricultural soils and LULUCF categories may be added to the three already counted under the Protocol, subject to certain conditions.

A number of issues, however, remained unresolved in the Kyoto Protocol and have been the subject of continuing negotiations since its adoption in order to develop recommendations to the COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol at its first session (COP/MOP 1). These outstanding issues include the elaboration of agreed definitions for "afforestation", "reforestation" and "deforestation", and the criteria that should be applied under Article 3.4 for including new activities in the scope of the Protocol, and which activities should be selected.

Given the particular complexity and scientific uncertainty surrounding the LULUCF sector, the IPCC agreed, following a request from SBSTA 8 (June 1998), to prepare a Special Report on this issue.

At COP 4 (Buenos Aires, November 1998), Parties agreed to recommend decisions for COP/MOP 1 on the questions of definitions under Article 3.3 and additional activities under Article 3.4, and to do so after the IPCC Special Report had been completed and considered by the SBSTA. At COP 5 (Bonn, October/November 1999), Parties endorsed a work programme and decision-making framework on LULUCF to enable these draft decisions to be adopted by COP 6 (The Hague, November 2000). As part of the negotiations, the SBSTA invited Parties to submit country specific data and information on the LULUCF sector according to a standard format agreed at SBSTA 12 (June 2000). Work has also continued inter-sessionally, with several SBSTA workshops convened on LULUCF.

The IPCC Special Report on Land-use, land-use change and forestry was formally presented to SBSTA 12 in June 2000.

Parties failed to reach agreement on LULUCF at COP 6 in The Hague, as part of a package of decisions under the "Buenos Aires Plan of Action", and negotiating texts on the issue, along with those on other issues, were forwarded to a resumed session of COP 6 for further consideration.

Latest developments

At COP 6 part II (Bonn, July 2001), Parties adopted the Bonn Agreements on the Implementation of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, registering political agreement on key issues, including on LULUCF. Parties did not, however, complete their work on a detailed decision on LULUCF based on the Bonn Agreements, and the draft text of the decision was referred to COP 7 (Marrakesh, October/November 2001).

The Bonn Agreements set out a number of principles to govern the treatment of LULUCF activities under the Kyoto Protocol, and also register agreement on definitions of "forest", "afforestation", "reforestation" and "deforestation". The Agreements also stipulate that "forest management", "cropland management", "grazing land management" and "revegetation" are eligible activities under Article 3.4 subject to certain conditions and accounting rules, including an individual cap, listed in a table, on the amount of credit that each Party may claim from forest management. In addition, the Bonn Agreements confirm that only afforestation and reforestation are eligible for projects under the clean development mechanism.

The outstanding problems that surround the issue of LULUCF and prevented the completion of work on a detailed decision at COP 6 part II concern mostly the individual caps listed in the table, including their level and whether they can be reconsidered prior to the beginning of the first commitment period. The Russian Federation put forward a proposal on this issue, which is recorded in a footnote to the draft text forwarded to COP 7.

Next steps

Negotiations on LULUCF will continue at COP 7, in order to reach agreement and adopt a decision at that session, including recommendations for COP/MOP 1.

The information that the IPCC will provide to SBSTA 15 (meeting together with COP 7) on the development of good practice guidance for the LULUCF sector is also relevant to this item.

Documents for the upcoming session
FCCC/CP/2001/5/Add.2 Decision in progress on land-use, land-use change and forestry
Key decisions and conclusions
Decision 1/CP.6 Implementation of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.
Decision 16/CP.5 Land-use, land-use change and forestry
Decision 9/CP.4 Land-use, land-use change and forestry
SBSTA 12 report para. 32
SBSTA 11 report para.46
Key documents for earlier sessions
Negotiating texts
FCCC/CP/2001/2/Add.3/Rev.1 Consolidated negotiating text proposed by the President for COP 6 part II
FCCC/CP/2000/5/Add.3 (Vol. IV) Texts forwarded to COP 6 part II by COP 6 part I
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/12 Text by the SBSTA Chairman forwarded to SBSTA 13 part II (meeting together with COP 6 in The Hague)
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/10/Add.2 Text prepared at SBSTA 13 part I (September 2000) and forwarded to SBSTA 13 part II
Other documents
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/9 Consolidated synthesis of proposals by Parties.
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/9/Add.1 Compilation of country-specific data and information as submitted by Parties.
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/MISC.6 and Add.1-2 Submissions from Parties
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/MISC.8 and Add.1-2 Submissions from Parties
FCCC/SBSTA/2000/3 and Corr.1 Synthesis report on national greenhouse gas information reported by Annex I Parties for the land-use change and forestry sector and agricultural soils category.
FCCC/SBSTA/1999/MISC.7 and Add.1-2 Submissions from Parties
FCCC/SBSTA/1999/5 List of policy and procedural issues associated with Article 3.3 and 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol. Note by the secretariat
FCCC/SBSTA/1999/INF.5 Report on the second SBSTA workshop on land-use, land-use change and forestry
FCCC/SBSTA/1999/MISC.2 and Add.1 Issues to be considered at the second SBSTA workshop on land-use, land-use change and forestry. Submissions from Parties
FCCC/CP/1998/INF.4 Report on the initial SBSTA workshop on LULUCF
FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.1 and Add.1-2;
and FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.9 and Add.1-2
Submissions from Parties
FCCC/SBSTA/1998/INF.1 Issues related to land-use change and forestry. Note by the secretariat
FCCC/TP/1997/5 Synthesis of information from national communications of Annex I Parties on sources and sinks in the land-use change and forestry sector.
This agenda item is supported by the Methodology and Science Sub-Programme