World Rainforest Movement

Impossible to verify compliance if forests are included in CDM

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), based in Laxenburg, Austria. carried out a detailed study of Russia’s biosphere, which contains a fifth of the world’s forests. Its report puts in question the whole idea of using carbon sinks as a means of “compensating” for CO2 emissions. Anatoly Shvidenko, one of the scientists involved in the study, stated that under the Kyoto Protocol, Russia is likely to be able to claim credit for improving its biosphere’s ability to soak up carbon, but that the uncertainties involved in calculating such credits are huge and “greatly exceed likely changes in industrial emissions.”

Sten Nilsson, also from IIASA, concluded that “the scientific uncertainties in measuring carbon movements into and out of ecosystems are just too great,” and that “by opening up the whole of the biosphere to actions under the Kyoto Protocol, governments have made it completely unverifiable.” IIASA’s Michael Obersteiner summarized the whole issue by saying that the Protocol “really is a cheat’s charter.”

Asked to comment on the IIASA report, a US analyst of the Kyoto Protocol, David Victor, working at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, concurred with its findings. “Their analysis is fundamentally correct. It is essentially impossible to verify compliance if the targets include forests,” Victor said.

After analysing the IIASA report and other relevant information and viewpoints, “New Scientist” journalist Fred Pearce reaches the conclusion that “the message from the IIASA seems clear. Science is not yet up to policing a system of greenhouse gas targets that includes the biosphere. Until it is, the only viable Kyoto Protocol is one that relies solely on slashing the world’s use of fossil fuels.”