Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) activities aimed at mitigating
greenhouse gas emissions are often organized as projects. An LULUCF project
may integrate one or more activities aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions
or enhancing greenhouse gas sinks in terrestrial ecosystems and related sectors.
LULUCF projects are confined to a specific geographic location, time period,
and institutional framework to allow changes in carbon stocks or greenhouse
gas emissions to be monitored and verified. There are three broad types of LULUCF
projects: (i) avoiding emissions via conservation of existing carbon stocks,
(ii) increasing carbon storage by sequestration, and (iii) substituting carbon
for fossil fuel and energy-intensive products. Each of these types of project
has a variety of subtypes. Integrated multi-component projects may combine many
of these subtypes.
LULUCF projects have raised specific concerns regarding duration, additionality,
leakage, risks, accounting, measuring and monitoring, and verification of greenhouse
gas benefits. These concerns include the ability to construct reasonable, empirically
based, without-project baselines; the ability to quantify and reduce potential
leakage of greenhouse gases across project borders to other areas or markets;
and the ability to cope with natural or human-induced risks that may reduce
or eliminate accrued greenhouse gas benefits. Many of these issues are also
applicable to climate mitigation projects in other sectors. There are further
questions about the degree to which projects can be designed to contribute to
sustainable development and improved rural livelihoods. This chapter addresses
each of these concerns.
Assessment of the experience of LULUCF projects is constrained by the small
number of such projects, their limited activity and geographic scope, and the
short period of field operations since the first greenhouse gas mitigation project
began in 1988. About 3.5 Mha of land are currently included in 27 LULUCF greenhouse
gas mitigation projects being implemented in 19 countries. In addition, LULUCF
project experience to date has focused only on mitigating carbon (as carbon
Because no internationally agreed set of guidelines or methods yet exists to
quantify carbon benefits, costs, and the carbon and financial efficiency of
project activities, projects have used a wide range of methods to estimate changes
in carbon stocks or greenhouse gas emissions and financial indicators. Few of
the results of these projects have been independently verified, which makes
comparative assessments difficult. Using data reported by projects that have
been reviewed, average carbon sequestration or emissions avoidance per unit
area ranges from about 4-440 t C ha-1; there is wide variation across regions
and specific project types. The cost of greenhouse gas mitigation effects in
these projects ranges from $0.1-28 per t C, based on dividing the total financial
commitment by the estimated long-term greenhouse gas mitigation effect.
A fundamental component of project assessment is to determine whether changes
in carbon stocks or greenhouse gas emissions associated with a project are "additional"
to "business as usual." The first step in determining additionality has been
to develop a without-project (baseline) scenario against which carbon stocks
in the project can be compared. Currently there is no standard method for developing
baselines. Approaches for developing and applying baselines include: project
specific, established through a case-by-case exercise, or generic-based
on regional, national, or sectoral aggregated data. These baselines may remain
fixed throughout the duration of a project, or they may be periodically adjusted
in light of new data or evidence. Methods to quantify (or estimate) carbon stocks
in the baseline scenario include the use of models to project the fate of land
in the project area in combination with data on carbon stocks from proxy or
control areas or from the literature.
Experience shows that reducing access to food or fiber resources without offering
alternatives or substituting for the activity leading to greenhouse gas emissions
may result in project leakage as people move elsewhere to find needed supplies.
A few pilot projects to date have been designed to reduce leakage by explicitly
incorporating components that supply the resource needs of local communities
(e.g., planting fuelwood plantations to reduce pressures on other forests) and
provide socioeconomic benefits that create incentives to maintain the project.
Project accounting and monitoring methods could be matched with project conditions
to address leakage issues. For example, if flows of LULUCF products or people
across project boundaries are negligible, leakage is likely to be small, and
the monitoring area can be roughly equal to the project area. Conversely, where
flows are significant and leakage is likely to be large, the monitoring area
will need to be expanded beyond the project area to account for the leakage.
Alternative approaches for accounting and monitoring leakage may be required
where monitoring and project areas cannot be easily matched. Potential options
include national or regional LULUCF sectoral benchmarks (empirically derived
values that relate leakage levels to activities and/or regions) that could capture
and report leakage outside the project area, and standard risk coefficients
developed by project or activity type and region, with adjustments to project
greenhouse gas benefits made accordingly. However, the effectiveness of these
approaches is untested.
Implementation of projects in countries without assigned amounts for national
emissions presents specific concerns regarding baselines, greenhouse gas accounting,
leakage, and monitoring. Unlike Annex I countries, non-Annex I countries are
not required to account for emissions on a national level. Therefore, leakage
and emissions arising after the project has been completed will not be detected.