Land use, land use change and forestry activities (LULUCF) can help mitigate climate change by creating a terrestrial carbon sink, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while at the same time help increasing adaptive capacity and reduce poverty. Still, carbon stored in biomass or soils are only stored temporary since natural or human induced disturbances can cause a total or partial loss of stored carbon.
LULUCF-activities under the clean development mechanism (CDM), one of the flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto protocol, have been limited to afforestation and reforestation (A/R) projects under the first commitment period. Joint implementation projects and national accounting of greenhouse gas reduction can in addition to A/R-project also include deforestation, revegetation, forest management, cropland management and grazing land management. The exclusion of these types of activities from CDM has been questioned and debated recently.
This briefing tracks the United Nations (UN) climate negotiations in regards to the possibility of including additional LULUCF-activities under CDM, mainly the negotiations occurring after the adoption of the Bali Road map.
LULUCF under CDM has been discussed mainly in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). There are diverging ideas on whether a more holistic approach should be applied to the treatment of LULUCF under CDM or whether current structure should be kept. Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, Australia and several of the Least Developed Countries have been positive towards including additional LULUCF-activities. Some of the arguments brought up are that the LULUCF-sector holds a large potential to mitigate climate change that is lost with the current structure and that a broader inclusion of LULUCF-activities would lead to an inclusion of all parts of the world in the benefits from CDM. China, Brazil and Alliance of Small Island States have, on the other hand, been sceptical towards including additional activities arguing that there are too large uncertainties and that it creates an offset allowing developed nations to delay emission reduction in other sectors. The EU supports the current structure and rules but is open to discuss alternatives.
The AWG-KP has been negotiating a new LULUCF-decision, which has not yet been adopted. In the draft LULUCF-decision from the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen 2009, the possibility of expanding LULUCF under CDM was however opened. In the draft decision the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) is requested to initiate a work programme on additional LULUCF-activities. Since the LULUCF-decision is not yet adopted, SBSTA cannot initiate this work programme and whether they will be able to do so is dependent upon the outcome of the negotiations on the LULUCF-decision. LULUCF- activities under CDM have so far received little negotiation time.
LULUCF and CDM have also been discussed outside the formal UN climate negotiations. Several side events, for example, have treated these questions, both for and against the inclusion of additional activities.