Environmental impacts of Land use,
Land-use change and Forestry (LULUCF) under a future climate regime
To still meet the 2-degree limit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the reduction of emissions from industry and energy industry is not sufficient alone. Emissions from deforestation, especially in the tropics, and unsustainable land uses worldwide are relevant sources of greenhouse gases.
The parties to the UNFCCC are currently negotiating a new international agreement, which should enter into force in 2020 and is applicable to both, industrialized and developing countries. Our research project, which is funded by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), advises members of the German Delegation involved in land sector negotiations. The project includes the compilation of relevant policy instruments and approaches that can influence carbon fluxes in the forestry and wood sector. We want to identify options for land use rules regarding emission reporting and accounting, and analyze and evaluate if these options appear realizable to all parties under the new climate agreement. The investigated options must be environmentally sound, technically feasible and politically viable. Further they need to provide incentives for the protection of carbon reservoirs and for the promotion of carbon sinks in the land use sector.
The Thünen-Institute of Wood Research focusses within this project on the effects of wood utilization on the national carbon balances. The Thünen-Institute of Forest Ecology and Forest Inventory (Eberswalde) deals with the climate effects of different accounting rules on the forests of industrialised countries and the Thünen-Institute for International Forestry and Forest Economics focuses on the impacts on forests in developing countries.
The work within the project is strongly involved with recent developments in the negotations under UNFCCC and acts both on official proposals from the negotiations as well as informal discussion topics.
Besides the assessment of negotiating positions of parties to the convention and of publications of relevant stakeholders, we establish our own estimates on the potential development of emissions and removals of the sector with and without a new climate protection regime. On this basis, we formulate recommendations on how a new climate protection regime could look like.
While for most industrialized parties comprehensive emission data for forest activities as well as wood recycling exist from current reporting requirements, this is not the case for developing countries. Here, existing data on forest inventory and forest development must be used, for example, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO (FAO FRA2010, FAOStat). On this data basis and with existing calculation rules we estimate past and future emissions from deforestation.
Within our project, we primarily examine how the rules of a future global climate protection regime of all countries need to be designed in order integrate the land use sector on an environmentally integer, technically feasible and politically realizable basis.
In project expert panels and reports we have quantified, how the accounting of forests affects the biogenic CO2 balance. We also assessed the results with regard to the expected environmental effects and "fairness", and evaluated what options may thus be proposed for a common accounting framework for forests in the land sector.