2.5.1. LULUCF Activities and Sustainable Development
The Brundtland Commission has suggested that sustainable development is "development
that satisfies the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the
future" (Brundtland, 1987). At its core, sustainable development seeks to increase
the flow of goods and services generated by economic activity, while maintaining
or increasing the stock and quality of natural and human capital engaged or
affected by the activity (Maler, 1990; Munasinghe, 1993, 2000). Because capital
has natural and human dimensions, sustainable development reaches beyond the
traditional emphasis on growth in aggregate income (e.g., gross national product)
to include environmental quality and social equity (OECD, 1998; Munasinghe,
2000). Thus, a core objective of sustainable development is to balance social,
economic, and environmental activities and capital to improve current human
welfare, while ensuring a sound foundation for future generations to maintain
or improve their welfare (Solow, 1993).
Coincident with reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, LULUCF mitigation
activities are likely to generate associated impacts that could substantially
affect sustainable development objectives. For the purposes of this Special
Report, these associated impacts are categorized as primarily environmental
or primarily socioeconomic in nature, although the distinctions between the
two categories are rarely clear-cut. Environmental consequences of LULUCF activities
include effects on biodiversity and land and water resources. Carbon mitigation
objectives will generally be interwoven with traditional economic and social
factors that affect land-use decisions, such as the demand for food, fiber,
fuel, building materials, and habitable land. As a result, LULUCF activities
may generate socioeconomic impacts through changes in producer and consumer
welfare, employment, poverty, and equity. If the ultimate goal of sustainable
development is to generate the optimal mix of all (climate-related and other)
environmental and socioeconomic benefits, tradeoffs are likely. Areas and activities
with the greatest CO2 reduction benefits may not produce the optimal mix of
non-CO2 impacts for all stakeholders. For instance, areas with the greatest
benefit for a given investment in carbon offsets may not always provide the
greatest biodiversity benefits (Fearnside, 1995)-although there are several
means by which the two objectives can be strongly linked, should the Parties
be interested in doing so.
Because land-use decisions typically are driven by factors other than GHG mitigation,
direct regulation or economic incentives often may be needed to incorporate
carbon considerations into land-use decisions, particularly in the case of private
lands. Land-use decisions typically are based on an assessment of costs and
benefits that derives from consideration of a complex range of factors specific
to each land unit; therefore, achieving global objectives relating to GHGs may
require a mixture of regulatory and voluntary instruments. To the extent that
economic incentives such as carbon credits compensate landowners for voluntarily
changing their practices, those landowners can be at least as well off economically
after the change. There are Parties other than the landowner, however, for whom
the change in land use or management may affect their welfare either positively
or negatively. For instance, modification of land-use or management practices
may change employment opportunities or affect environmental quality either positively
or negatively. Therefore, important indirect effects of LULUCF activities on
the environment and socioeconomic welfare are likely to remain; the Parties
may want to consider these effects in planning and implementing strategies for
fostering LULUCF activities.
For the purposes of this discussion, LULUCF activities to mitigate climate
change under the Protocol can be categorized as follows:6
- Activities that increase or maintain the area of land in forests.
This category relates primarily to Article 3.3 activities of afforestation,
reforestation, and (avoided) deforestation. From a sustainable development
perspective, there may be important differences between activities that convert
non-forest land to forest and those that protect existing forests from conversion.
Reducing deforestation rates can avoid significant carbon emissions (especially
in the tropics) and reduce associated environmental and social problems.
- Activities that manage forests to store more carbon. Changing the
management of forests to store more carbon will alter the size and structure
of forests. Although more intensive forms of management to increase tree biomass
(e.g., more intensive efforts at regeneration, fertilization) may make more
timber available for eventual harvest, they also may impart some negative
consequences on other ecosystem functions. Alternatively, if current commercial
management practices are modified to leave more biomass in the forest for
longer periods of time (e.g., extended rotation lengths, selective logging),
other ecosystem functions may benefit while timber production is curtailed.
- Activities that manage non-forested lands to store more carbon. As
an alternative to afforestation or reforestation, carbon stocks in non-forested
lands can be increased through changes in management practices-including agricultural
soil management, grassland management, and agroforestry. These activities
can have strong implications for sustainable development because of their
interconnection with food production, rural poverty, and attendant consequences
for the environment.
- Activities that reduce dependence on fossil fuels through product substitution.
LULUCF activities can reduce dependence on fossil fuels primarily by providing
a source of biomass that can be used as a renewable alternative to fossil
fuels in generating energy and by supplying wood products that can substitute
for other products requiring more energy to produce. Fossil fuel substitution
will generally require investments in technology and infrastructure to enable
the adoption of biofuels and less carbon-intensive products and processes.
Generalizing the impacts of LULUCF activities on sustainable development across
activities, locations, and time, is difficult. Core environmental and socioeconomic
aspects are discussed in the following sections. Chapters
3, 4, and 5 provide more detail
on the impacts of specific activities and projects.