Additional Activities under Article 3.4 of Kyoto Protocol Current state of Agreements among Parties

By Mukesh Patir

Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol requires the Conference of Parties to the United Nation Framework Convention to decide upon modalities and rules for including additional activities to account for changes in greenhouse gas concentrations from Agriculture soil, Land use change and forestry. The Conference of parties came to agreements in its meetings in Bonn July 2001 and Montreal 2005 for a broad definition of some possible additional human induced activities under the Kyoto protocol article 3.4. However the current state of agreements among parties on these additional activities are not clearly mentioned and agreed upon for future commitment periods.

IntroductionIn its third annual meeting in 1997 at Kyoto Japan, the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change reached a historic agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emission known as Kyoto protocol under which most industrialized nations also known as the Annex – 1 countries agreed to a legally binding reduction of GHG emissions by at least 5.2 % of their respective 1990 level for the first commitment period 2008-2012. This common but differentiated responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emission was because of the fact that the per capita share of greenhouse gas emission of the developing or underdeveloped countries during the pre agreement period was much low. According to Article 3 paragraph 4 of the Kyoto protocol the Conference of Parties to this Protocol was to decide or as soon as possible on the modalities, rules and which human induced activities related to green house gas emission as sources and removal as sink to be included for reporting after taking into account uncertainty of scale, transparency in reporting, verifiability, the methodological work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the advice provided by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in accordance with Article 5 and the decisions of the Conference of the Parties. Some of the Annex – 1 countries such as the United States and Canada argued for inclusion of such additional activities in agriculture soil, land use change and forestry categories from the first commitment period itself as opposed to the European Union and others who want the commitment period to be kept open . The Conference of parties to the Kyoto protocol could not make much head way on issues relating to article 3.4 for the next three rounds of COP meetings. However in the 6th meeting of the Conference of parties at Bonn in July 2001 parties broadly agreed on a broad definition of Additional Activities.

Agreements on Additional Activities under Article 3.4

Following the Kyoto protocol in 1997 the Conference of Parties deliberated at its series meetings for reaching an agreement on defining the additional activities under article 3.4. For the first time in its 6th meeting in Bonn July 2001 the Conference of parties broadly agreed in principal on the additional activities to be included under Article 3.4 of the Kyoto protocol which may be categorized such as Cropland management, Forest land management and Revegetation. This followed after the parties agreed that there would not be overall upper limit cap on the amount of carbon credit claimed by the parties from these activities. In the case of Cropland management the conference specified that only increased in carbon sequestration would be accounted while for forest management it was decided that the claim on carbon credit from this activity would be country specific. In the 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties held in Montreal Canada in 2005 parties laid down and adopted a broad definition and rules for defining additional activities for greenhouse gas emission and reductions purposes.

The broad agreements on defining additional activities identified under article 3.4 are as follows :

  • “Revegetation” is a direct human-induced activity to increase carbon stocks on sites through the establishment of vegetation that covers a minimum area of 0.05 hectares and does not meet the definitions of aforestation and reforestation contained in article 3.4
  • “Forest management” is a system of practices for stewardship and use of forest land aimed at fulfilling relevant ecological (including biological diversity), economic and social functions of the forest in a sustainable manner
  • “Cropland management” is the system of practices on land on which agricultural crops are grown and on land that is set aside or temporarily not being used for crop production
  • “Grazing land management” is the system of practices on land used for livestock production aimed at manipulating the amount and type of vegetation and livestock produced

For monitoring and verification of changes in greenhouse gas concentration through sources and sinks the parties have agree upon a three tier methods for its parties :

  • Under Level 1 Individual parties would self monitor and report on emissions and removals of Greenhouse gases by Article 3.4 activities according to IPCC reporting guidelines and good practice guidelines
  • Under Level 2 National level verification and validation of reports which would also includes Peer and Public review
  • Under Level 3 International level Validation and Verification by Expert Review Teams according to Article 8 of the protocol.

Additional Activities under Article 3.4

Additional Activities under the Kyoto protocol article 3.4 means those human induced activities other than ones mentioned in article 3.3 of Aforestation, Deforestation and Reforestation since 1990. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) parties to the Kyoto Protocol may either include a limited set of selected activities or all activities that can be shown to have effects on the changes of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere . A narrowly defined limited set of activities would be easy to monitor and verify but would reflect only a small fraction of the true effects of the LULUCF on GHG emission would be reported and listed within inventories. On the other hand broadly defined all inclusive set of activity would reflect toward full accounting of changes in carbon.

Some of the additional activities as suggested by the IPCC under article 3.4 and some of which are currently being reported by parties voluntarily broadly relates to Cropland management, Agro forestry, Revegetation, Forest management, Wet management and restoration, Grazing land management Urban land management etc. Cropland management includes activities such as Irrigation water management, Conservation tillage, Erosion control practices and Management of Rice cultivation. Annex1 countries such as Canada, UK, Netherland and Switzerland included and showed Cropland management as additional activities for offsetting carbon balance in their national submission report to the Conference of parties. Revegetation refers to restoration of severely eroded and reclamation of deserts, alkaline and saline soil. Australia and Iceland have showed these activities in their submission report to the Conference of parties. Forest management includes activities such as Forest fertilization, Forest fire management, Pest management, Forest harvest quantity and timing and Low impact forest harvests etc. Finland, France, Germany, and Norway are some of the Annex 1 countries which have included Forest management as additional activities in their list of national inventories and reported to the Conferences of parties.

Conclusion

The Conference of parties serving as the meeting of the Convention came to agreements in its meetings in Bonn July 2001 and Montreal 2005 for a broad definition of some possible additional human induced activities under the Kyoto protocol article 3.4. However the current state of agreements among parties on the inclusion of these additional activities under article 3.4 to account for changes in greenhouse gas concentration in Agriculture soil, Land use change and forest category are not clearly mentioned and agreed upon for second and subsequent commitment periods. There are still matters to be resolved relating to uncertainties of scale and verifiability of the effects of these human induced activities on the changes in greenhouse gas concentration. Some Annex 1 countries have included certain additional activities in their respective national GHG emissions inventories and reported in their submission the Conference of parties.

References

Wikipedia, Kyoto protocol, 08 March 09, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol

UNFCC, Kyoto Protocol, 08 March 09, http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.pdf

Wikipedia, UNFCC, 08 March 09, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Framework_Convention_on_Climate_Change

UNFCC, Decision of the COP and the COP/CMP, Reports of the COP Montreal 2005, 08 March 09, http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2005/cmp1/eng/08a03.pdf#page=3

Verifying sinks under Kyoto protocol, vertik Briefing paper 01/03Pete Smith July 2001, 08 March 09 www.vertic.org/assets/breifingpaper01-03.doc

IPCC, Land use Land use change and forestry, 08 March 09, http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/land_use/166.htm#s4-3-1

Verifying sinks under Kyoto protocol, vertik Briefing paper 01/03Pete Smith July 2001, 08 March 09 www.vertic.org/assets/breifingpaper01-03.doc

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