Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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4.7. Technical Issues Related to Implementation of Article 3.4

4.7.1. Assessing Activities

If the Parties decide to include only some activities under Article 3.4, they will need to address two generic problems:

  • How to weigh the large number of factors relevant to the decision
  • How to be consistent across widely different practices, some of which probably have not even been suggested yet.

One way to deal with both of these issues is to adopt a decision framework that allows practices now and in the future to be screened in a consistent way and simplifies a complex problem by dividing it into simpler steps and following a logical procedure. The framework outlined in Figure 4-13 is one example of such a procedure, which could be modified by the Parties. It works through multiple criteria to reach an endpoint where an activity falls into one of the following categories:

  • Clearly a priority candidate for inclusion
  • Clearly not a candidate
  • May need to be considered in terms of reduced radiative forcing of the atmosphere traded off against non-climate impacts.

This approach can be made semi-quantitative up to the point at which climate impacts need to be compared to non-climate impacts, which unavoidably involves value judgments. The procedure can be applied at all scales (project, national, or global), although the importance-weighting of different criteria is likely to vary with scale. For example, the cost-efficiency of the activity (especially the monitoring cost) is very important at the project level, and non-climate impact is very important at the national level. At the global level, the net atmospheric impact (discounted for risk and uncertainty) and its verifiability may be the key criteria.

Figure 4-13: One possible framework for systematically considering a variety of factors that have a bearing on the suitability of an activity for inclusion under Article 3.4 of Kyoto Protocol. The entry point is an estimate of the magnitude of the carbon stored by the activity (lefthand side, lower middle). This estimate is then progressively down-weighted by considerations such as how easy it is to verify, the degree to which it is an intended consequence of a management action, and how likely it is to be lost through disturbance (note that this is an example list; the Parties have yet to decide which criteria will be employed). The estimate then must be adjusted for changes in non-CO2 GHG emissions and changes in fossil fuel consumption resulting from the activity. Finally, this adjusted estimate must be weighted up in relation to the non-climate benefits or disbenefits it may cause.

The total global magnitudes for carbon stored through various activities (Table 4-1) are relevant to the discussion of whether activities should be included as adjustments to Kyoto Protocol targets or whether they are so insignificant that the additional complexity of accounting is not justified. From the perspective of individual nations or projects, the local rate (the per-hectare rate multiplied by the area under consideration) may be of highest concern. Even activities that make minor global contributions can be important in the GHG inventories of individual nations.

Arguments about the cost of implementing an activity or the cost of measurement and reporting an activity are not directly relevant to whether an activity should be permitted under Article 3.4. Such arguments, however, will strongly affect the degree to which permitted activities will actually take place or be reported by individual Parties. Most of the additional activities analyzed in this chapter are undertaken primarily for non-climate reasons, so only a portion of the cost would be allocated to climate impact reduction. For activities whose cost-effectiveness is already demonstrated by their partial adoption, the costs of broader application may consist only of the marginal transaction cost of inventorying and reporting. Individual countries and projects will make cost-effectiveness decisions on the basis of their own circumstances, which vary greatly, and in relation to the cost of alternative land-use activities and energy sector options. Inventory and reporting costs are important at the national level if spatially comprehensive (and especially spatially explicit) accounting is required.

The sample assessment procedure begins by estimating the carbon storage rate for the activity in a given area (Figure 4-13). It then successively reduces this value, taking into consideration the following factors:

  • The confidence with which the storage rate can be estimated
  • The degree to which the observed storage is likely to result from direct human-induced activity
  • The security of the carbon pools formed (given the risks to which they are exposed).

The example deliberately refrains from being prescriptive regarding cutoff criteria or formulae to be used because these judgments are decisions for the policy process. The weighting factors conceptually range between zero and one: In the example, "fully weighted" means a weighting of 1.0, "highly weighted" approximately 0.7, "low weighted" approximately 0.4, and "very low weighted" approximately 0.2.

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