We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
A recent JRC report finds that EU Member States will face some challenges in meeting the new reporting and accounting requirements for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, both under the Kyoto Protocol and under recent EU legislation.
The latest rules (2013-2020) of the Kyoto Protocol require accounting of all forest activities. The European Commission has also proposed legislation towards future inclusion of the sector. As a first step, building on the Kyoto Protocol’s rules, Decision 529/2013/EU sets out new rules for the LULUCF sector, which make the accounting of GHG emissions mandatory also for cropland and grazing land management activities. The implementation of this legislation will set a harmonised and robust framework for monitoring, reporting and accounting LULUCF, paving the way for the inclusion of the LULUCF sector in future EU climate commitments (e.g. within the 2030 climate and energy package).
EU measurements of the impact of the LULUCF sector on the EU’s GHG emissions are significantly affected by the ability of Member States to estimate and report GHG emissions and removals in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methods.
In 2011-2013, the JRC carried out an assessment of the state of preparedness of the EU Member States in complying with the new LULUCF requirements. The assessment identified general recommendations and priority actions to help EU Member States improve their national LULUCF monitoring, reporting and verification and the comparability and consistency of their estimates. Furthermore, the JRC provided ad-hoc support to seven Member States (Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Romania) in order to support their efforts for improved LULUCF monitoring, reporting and verification.
The authors also suggest that the JRC’s European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) could be used for verification of the estimates of biomass burning included in LULUCF GHG inventories, and that a well-known soil carbon model (Yasso) could be used for reporting carbon stock changes in forest mineral soil. Finally, tools have been developed by the JRC to support Member States in reporting LULUCF in line with IPCC guidance, including a model for estimating carbon stock changes in living biomass of perennial woody biomass crops, and maps for each Member State representing their climate zone, soil type and global ecological zones for the purpose of using the IPCC default factors.
LULUCF activities influence climate mainly through the addition or removal of carbon dioxide to/from the atmosphere. The United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol define LULUCF as a “greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change and forestry activities”.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, parties to the UNFCCC must submit their annual GHG inventories following the guidelines of the IPCC. The new accounting rules agreed for the second commitment period (CP2, 2013-2020) of the Kyoto Protocol, along with new EU legislation (Decision 529/2013/EU), impose more stringent requirements for the reporting of emissions from the LULUCF sector.