A decision to broadly define additional activities under Article 3.4 has the
potential to profoundly influence the environmental effectiveness of the Protocol.
Such changes could result from allowing Parties to claim credit for a portion
of ongoing carbon stock increases expected for Annex I Parties under "business-as-usual,"
as well from increasing the range of options available to Parties for adopting
new measures to reduce emissions or increase removals. Annex I Parties have
reported net GHG removals totaling 0.5 Gt C in 1990 from the land-use change
and forestry sector, based on the reporting guidelines adopted under the UNFCCC.
Although available projections made by Parties indicate that the rate of removal
will decline over time, substantial net removals are still projected to occur
during the commitment period under a business-as-usual scenario. Subtraction
of a baseline during the first commitment period would reduce the potential
for Parties to obtain credit for carbon stock increases expected under business-as-usual.
A business-as-usual baseline could also protect Parties from unexpected debits.
Suppose, for example, that forest management is included as an additional activity
under Article 3.4, and low-impact logging is the only practice applied to a
particular patch of land. With a business-as-usual baseline, credits would be
earned only for the carbon stock increase resulting from low-impact logging.
Suppose that in a subsequent commitment period the forest is destroyed by wildfire.
Without a business-as-usual baseline, debits could be equal to the entire stock
of carbon destroyed by the fire. With a business-as-usual (or 1990 activity
level) baseline, however, the Party is debited only for the increment of carbon
attributable to low-impact logging because the rest of the forest would have
been destroyed under business-as-usual. For further discussion of business-as-usual
baselines, see Section 4.6 and Chapter
18.104.22.168. Since 1990
Article 3.4 allows a Party to apply the decision made by the COP on additional
activities to the first commitment period provided that the activities have
taken place since 1990. This requirement is ambiguous because some activities
may have started before and continued past 1990. Not all activities have a threshold,
or point in time, when the activity may be said to begin.
In general, this Special Report treats ARD as events, the occurrence of which
can be specified in time. Article 3.4 activities, whether they are defined narrowly
or broadly, may be more in the nature of processes, which may make determining
whether they occurred before or after 1990 more difficult. For example, "management"
is a continuous process. Suppose that a forest has been managed using low-impact
logging since 1980. The practice is ongoing, so the activity arguably has taken
place "since 1990." Yet some of the observed stock increase undoubtedly is related
to the practice of low-impact logging prior to 1990. If management or management
practices are adopted as activities under Article 3.4, one option for applying
a "since 1990" test (which is required for the first commitment period) would
be to consider the effect of changes in management since 1990. This approach
could be implemented by designating land on which there has been a change in
management since 1990 as land under Article 3.4. A baseline for this land could
be constructed by estimating the stock change that would have taken place under
a continuation of the management regime in place as of 1990.
Similarly, the requirement that additional human-induced activities be "related
to changes in" emissions and removals in the agricultural soils, land-use change,
and forestry categories may suggest the need for a baseline against which to
measure the change. Such a baseline could be the rate of change in carbon stocks
on those lands in 1990.