22 June, 2011

LULUCF guide


Kirsten Macey, Bill Hare, Claudine Chen

In 1997, countries adopted targets in the Kyoto Protocol for industrialised countries and rather general articles on LULUCF activities. The main feature of the 1997 Kyoto agreement was that credits from LULUCF projects or activities would serve to offset industrial emissions. Put more simply, the larger the amount of biological carbon sequestration entering the system, the smaller the reductions required from the burning of fossil fuel.

This set up a negotiating dynamic where many countries had a tactical interest in rules that maximized LULUCF credits, in order to decrease their need for industrial sector emission reductions. These countries pursued LULUCF accounting rules that were biased towards crediting LULUCF sinks versus debiting LULUCF emissions. In the end, the rules for LULUCF are a series of attempts to reduce the level of gaming in the system.

The attempt to steer the rules in the least damaging direction while satisfying the interests of many countries led to a series of complex and somewhat fragmented LULUCF rules.