Role of sinks in Kyoto protocol debated

Governments, NGOs, industry, discuss how to account for land-use related sinks in protocol rules

Signatories to the UN Kyoto climate protocol met last week in Poland to debate a series of thorny issues surrounding how to account for the ability of forests and other types of land to act as "sinks" for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The UN climate change convention, which set up the meeting of governments, NGOs, and industry groups, has stressed that no official outcome was reached.

Key topics of discussion at the forum were article 3.3 of the Kyoto protocol, which deals with afforestation, deforestation and reforestation; "human-induced" activities relating to changes in emissions; project-based land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) activities. Submissions on LULUCF are due by 1 August

in preparation for finalising rules on sinks in the Kyoto protocol at the sixth meeting of parties to the convention, to be held in November in the Netherlands.

Issues to emerge from the meeting, according to its co-chair, Halldor Thorgeirsson of the Icelandic environment ministry, were methods of measuring and monitoring LULUCF-linked carbon stocks; and the need to distinguish between human-induced and natural causes of increased carbon stocks.

The meeting was held in response to a recent report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change, which argued that technical problems remained in assessing projects' capacity to reduce carbon emissions. The study also informed a meeting of EU environment ministers last month (ENDS Daily 23 June), where it was decided that sinks should not be used before 2012, the end of the protocol's first "commitment period," unless concerns over scale and risks were resolved. Ministers also agreed that sinks should not be included under the protocol's "clean development mechanism", through which industrial nations will be able to claim emissions credits for investing in developing countries' emissions reduction projects.

Follow Up:
UN climate change convention, tel: +49 228 815 1000 and report of Poznañ meeting.

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