Forest aspects of Russia’s climate action in the context of the Paris Agreement under UNFCCC
CEPF RAS and WWF Russia held a workshop “Forest aspects of Russia’s climate action in the context of the Paris Agreement under UNFCCC” on November, 19 2015. The lay-out of the “Forest and Climate” brochure and informational materials (Glossary of terms used under the UNFCCC, informational poster) were presented. CEPF RAS and WWF Russia officers gave presentations based on the brochure contents. Representatives of Norwegian and Finnish embassies and interested scientists from Russia took part in the workshop.
Presentations (in Russian) can be downloaded here.
The forest and climate topic has been elaborated on by CEPF RAS for years. The ROBUL model for forest carbon accounting (regional forest carbon balance assessment) was developed in CEPF RAS. This model is used by Roshydromet Russia for annual national GHG inventory.
Issues regarding the perspective of emissions reduction by forests were discussed at the cusp of the new climate agreement which is to be discussed at the upcoming UNFCCC conference in Paris. The Paris Agreement will substitute the Kyoto Protocol in 2020. The open text is not approved yet. It is for member-countries to decide whether forest carbon stocks will be accounted for climate mitigation.
In order the forest adds to climate mitigation the carbon balance should be kept positive. Carbon sequestration by Russian forests is very significant and is not accounted to the full extent. It does not favour Russia’s participation in agreements on climate. Rational forest management fosters carbon sequestration by forests if one counts according to the UNFCCC rules and without limits. The cuttings reduction comparing to 1990 level is insufficient. Russia will be losing its forest carbon stocks by 2030 because of stands getting older forecasts show. Old-growth forests conservation favours long-term carbon storage but average multiannual stock is balanced by sources which means that carbon budget is zero. It would be perspective to convert the abandoned agricultural lands overgrowing by forests to the forest fund category to increase forest stock. Fire prevention, combatting diseases and insect pest control is also significant. Illegal logging is not a threat for forest carbon budget comparing to the above listed factors.
The successive examples of forest carbon projects are the project of conversion of the abandoned agricultural lands to the forest fund in Altaysliy kray and the Bikin project, the latter jointly implemented by the German government, Ministry for Natural Resources of Russia and the indigenous community in Primorskiy kray. The procedures of registration, reporting, audits by UNFCCC and carbon quotes marketing demanded resources. The Altay project lead to carbon footprint reduction of the Olympic games-2014 in Sochi afterwards. The sale of carbon quotas saved due to Bikin forest protection turned out to be more beneficial than its felling. The revenues helped to create the national park.
The informational role of this workshop and the brochure “Forest and climate” should not be underestimated. Informing the society on the existing problems is a step towards its solution. For example minister S. Donskoy expressed fair opinion on unified requirements towards stocks accounting both in tropical and boreal forests. The special workgroup was created to develop regulatory framework for emissions limitation by sectors of economy from 2018. Perhaps this and the fact that companies capitalization increases due to greening stimulates the private sector to participate in forest and climate projects.