- Published on Friday, 22 June 2012 00:00
By A Web design Company
Reference levels for carbon dioxide emissions will soon be standardized for Southeast Asia.
The new international agreement on climate change will include Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+).
“The proposed guidelines will have to be discussed at the highest levels because it will impact on national policies,” said Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., Director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
“Agreements on guidelines, modalities, methodologies and approaches are being crafted to move REDD+ towards implementation,” he explained. “ASEAN countries need to have their interests and unique forest conditions accommodated in the negotiations and agreements.”
The Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) groups Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand Vietnam and the Philippines.
“It will be difficult to standardize procedural details of the guidelines because of the varying levels of national capacity, data availability, national forest inventory and the unique circumstances of each nation,” he said.
“In other words, the guidelines should provide operational details to make the them workable but at the same time allow more robust application.”
Asean has commissioned SEARCA to design cost-effective guidelines for measuring, reporting, verifying and establishing reference levels for carbon dioxide emissions caused by forest degradation.
Guidelines, procedures, and methodologies for REDD+ implementation are still in a formative development. Currently, there is no commonly agreed upon procedures and methodologies that apply to all situations and scenarios.
“Hence, there is flexibility in terms of approaches adopted, methodologies applied or even the overall framework of implementation,” Saguiguit pointed out.
“It is even conceivable that no common approach will be adopted by all ASEAN members,” he said.
“Thus, the guidelines should be presented with a checklist of potential methods, criteria or considerations for their applications.”
SEARCA will identify approaches and technical assistance needed for the implementation of REDD+ as well as collaborative research in the region.
Selective logging and the occurrence of forest fires are the most likely aspects of forest degradation among Asean countries that need to be studied collaboratively.
Another research interest will be quantifying carbon stocks and carbon density among different types of forests.
This will allow density mapping across forests and forest types in the region.
Funded by the Asean Australia Development Corporation Program (AADCP), the project aims to enhance the regional grouping’s ability to coordinate REDD+ efforts to address the issue of climate change and its impacts on member states.
It will establish, for example, Reference Emission Levels as key entry requirements for REDD+ programs as well as Guidelines for Measuring, Reporting and Verification.
Reference Emission Levels is the benchmark in assessing a country’s performance in implementing REDD+ based on greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals.
They serve as baselines for estimating reductions in emission. And they will determine eligibility for foreign funding of related projects.
The first step in establishing the Reference Emission Levels is to determine the land areas that show decreases and increases in forest carbon stocks, or carbon dioxide captured and stored in forests.
Under REDD+, carbon stocks should be reduced by decreasing deforestation and degradation and increasing forest carbon stocks through proper management.
The guidelines must be consistent with the Asean Common Positions, such as leaving open the method for defining Reference Emission Levels. This implies flexibility in the methods adopted for each country in establishing reference levels.
Provisions will be provided to allow justifiable adjustments, or use of alternative approaches, that suit each national circumstances and data availability.
For example, Asean countries will find it difficult to harmonize existing data with possibly new data management systems that provide reasonably accurate picture of carbon emissions and removals.
Hence, harmonizing data will not be a primary concern at this time; data requirements will be at the minimum but will increase as country capabilities improve and data become more available.
The guidelines should be based on sound science and limit bias that may favor national interests.
For this reason, the guidelines should adhere to the guidelines set by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.
Projections of emissions should be based on historic emissions and removals while international third party evaluators should make independent assessments of projections.
SEARCA will host a regional workshop to thresh out potential areas of disagreements and identify common interests.