Forestry could be included in emissions trading from 2013, experts believe. According to the Stern Report, the sector holds great potential since deforestation contributes more to global warming than transport.
Forest-based industries – wood and paper – are seeking greater recognition from policymakers as contributing to global warming mitigation both in Europe and in developing countries.
Experts say that the benefits are potentially huge as forest-based products have the ability to store carbon dioxide: “One cubic centimeter of timber equals one tonne of CO2 that is stored,” says Dr. Bernhard Schlamadinger, a consultant to the UNFCCC secretariat, the World Bank and the FAO. Forests, he adds, “are a net remover of carbon”.
But UN and EU legislation currently does not allow reforestation projects in Brazil or Central Europe to be included in the Kyoto protocol’s project mechanism – clean development and joint implementation (CDM/JI).
“When the [EU Emissions Trading Scheme] directive was decided in 2001, it was just a few months before the UN climate convention took the final decision on forestry,” says Schlamadinger, who also works at the Joanneum Reasearch Institute, a large state-owned Austrian R&D firm.
“So the timing was a bit awkward. That was one of the reasons why the [EU Emissions Trading Scheme] excludes forestry.”
But he hopes that this can change soon, possibly with a new Commission proposal to include aviation in the ETS, due out before the end of 2006.
“We hope to piggy-back on other changes that might occur in the EU-ETS,” says Schlamadinger. “Realistically, I think inclusion by 2013 can be achieved. Whether we can do it with aviation remains to be seen.”
However, he admits there is still a lot of convincing to do. “It is not in the radar screen of people in [the Commission’s] DG environment,” Schlamadinger says.
“The parliament has actually mandated the European Commission to find ways of including forestry,” something that Schlamadinger says is “written in the linking directive”. But, he adds, this “has not been fulfilled yet”.