Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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5.2.1. Quantifying Project Activities: Issues and Methods (continued)

About 3.5 Mha of land are currently included in LULUCF GHG mitigation projects being implemented in 19 countries (see Section 5.2.2). Assessment of the experience of LULUCF mitigation projects is constrained by the small number of these projects, the limited range of project types, uneven geographic distribution, and the short period of field operations to date. The first publicized LULUCF mitigation or carbon offset project began in 1988: the CARE-AES Guatemala community forestry project (Trexler et al., 1989; Faeth et al., 1994).

Most reviews of LULUCF climate change mitigation project experience to date are simply summaries of information reported by individual projects or AIJ programs (e.g., Dixon et al., 1993; Stuart and Moura-Costa, 1998; EPA/USIJI, 1998; FACE, 1998; UNFCCC, 1998). A few studies review or analyze several project case studies (e.g., Faeth et al., 1994; Brown et al., 1996; Brown et al., 1997; Goldberg, 1998; Imaz et al.,1998; Witthoeft-Muehlmann, 1999). Several projects have been well documented. The Rio Bravo conservation and alternative forest management project in Belize, for example, has produced a set of operational protocols (Programme for Belize, 1997b). These protocols include descriptions of the project's reference case, leakage assessment, a sustainable forest management strategy (including boundary security and fire management), estimates of GHG benefits, baseline, and monitoring plan. These protocols have been filed with the U.S. Initiative for Joint Implementation (USIJI) program, along with other project documents (EPA/USIJI, 1998).

No internationally agreed set of guidelines and methods-comparable to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (OECD/IPCC) Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories-exists to quantify GHG emissions and sequestration, baselines, socioeconomic and environmental impact assessment, and reporting of project activities (Andrasko et al, 1996; Swisher, 1997). Such guidelines and methods are urgently needed if projects are to be reported consistently and credibly under several Articles of the Kyoto Protocol (see Chapter 6).

Project data reported in the literature use a wide range of methods and, for the most part, have not been independently verified. Thus, comparing data across projects is difficult. Evaluations of project GHG accounting by different analysts are likely to produce estimated GHG benefits that are different from the estimates of project developers, because GHG accounting methods have not yet been standardized. Analysts and project developers are building on early experience to alter the design of projects; they are beginning to produce data-driven baselines in some cases and revise project estimates of sequestration or avoided emissions.

Table 5-1 compares the initial baseline and net GHG benefits estimated by project developers during the planning phase and reported to the USIJI program (see Section 5.2.2) for two large projects, along with later evaluations by other entities. These projects were conceived in the voluntary, non-credit, exploratory AIJ phase, where steep learning curves were experienced. As Table 5-1 illustrates, estimated GHG benefits have tended to decrease over time as methods and initial assumptions have been refined and applied to a given project (e.g., Busch et al., 1999; Brown et al., 2000). If standardized methods are introduced, estimates should tend to vary mainly as changes occur in project conditions or land uses or with the availability of new data. Over the next 5 years or so, early projects will begin measuring and monitoring their performance, replacing earlier estimates of project baselines and GHG benefits with field data collected for the purpose of monitoring. Reported GHG benefits could change as well if verification of GHG reductions occurs and the results are significantly different from previous estimates.
This chapter surveys projects that were in early or later stages of implementation by 1999 (i.e., projects that have been at least partially funded and have begun activities on the ground that will generate GHG benefits). It focuses on LULUCF projects formally reported to the UNFCCC AIJ Pilot Phase program (17 projects, as of late 1998), as well as more than a dozen other projects (Trexler et al., 1999; UNFCCC, 1999b). The AIJ program was established in 1995 by Decision 5/CP.1 of the first Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC as a voluntary program to experiment with concepts of joint implementation that evolved during the negotiation of the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 1995). Many projects have not been reported to the voluntary AIJ program, which precludes transfer of emissions reduction or avoidance credits to Parties. Unreported projects often began prior to the AIJ program and faced reluctance by host countries to grant formal acceptance, as well as a lack of incentives for investors or developers to report. One review identified 18 offset projects underway in 14 countries that have not been reported to the AIJ program (Trexler et al.,1999).

Table 5-1: Examples of the effect of non-standardized methods and improved data on greenhouse gas accounting and baseline development, for two projects: original proposals, developer estimates, and reviews by third parties.

Project and Description of Revisions Estimated Baseline
Estimated Lifetime
Project GHG Benefits
(Project Case - Baseline)
Source of Estimates;

Costa Rica Protected Area Project (PAP)-Original proposal to USIJI, 1997, using remote sensing for 1979-92 to estimate deforestation rate 15.7
(422,800 ha)
(422,800 ha)
Project, report to USIJI; EPA/USIJI (1998)

PAP-Adjusted baseline and GHG estimate (year 1 actions, benefits over 20 years) certified by third party entity, 1998 3.5
(first 30,000 ha only)
(first 30,000 ha only)
SGS, as certifier of project baseline for project; SGS (1998)

PAP-Independent review, using remote sensing for 1986-97 for deforestation estimate, 1999 8.9
(medium scenario)
(medium scenario = 8.9)
LBNL, for USEPA; Busch et al. (1999)

Noel Kempff Climate Action Project (NKCAP), Bolivia-Original project proposal to USIJI, 1996 18.8 18.8 Witthoeft-Muehlmann (1998)

NKCAP-Project report to USIJI and UNAIJ, 1998 14.7 14.7 Project report to USIJI; EPA/USIJI (1998)

NKCAP-Revised estimates for project developer, 2000 6.5-8.5 6.5-8.5 Brown et al. (2000)a

a Noel Kempff project revised estimates in Brown et al. (2000) are preliminary results from field work in 1999, and are in external review prior to expected publication in 2000.

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