Russia proposes to exclude exported wood from the reporting of the climate agreement parties

Rashid Alimov

In Copenhagen, Russia declared its readiness to cut emissions by 15-25% compared to the 1990 level, preconditioned that the future agreement addresses the role of Russian forests in reducing emissions.

Russia believes that the forests must be incorporated into the new Agreement, because they absorb carbon dioxide.

The Russian proposals to the UN climate secretariat sent May 7th, states a need of "an adequate assessment of changes in the reservoir of carbon in timber products (known as harvested wood products)». The proposal states also a need of “replacement of the current simplified approach, implying instantaneous carbon dioxide emissions from the total volume of harvested wood, with an evidence-based method that takes into account the storage of carbon in the products of the timber industry.”

So current approach eqauls forest cuts to emissions of CO2, contained in the wood, and the Russian proposal is that such an CO2 emission must be written to the country, which used the timber products.

If the "simplified" approach of writing the emission to the country which cut the trees, is preserved, Russia insists on the "exclusion from the reporting by Parties of emissions from the volume of timber exported”.

Russian Socio-Ecological Union notes that the proposal, saying that not a lumberjack country, but the country, which purchased the wood, should be responsible for the carbon dioxide accumulated in the wood, seems fair. However, the question arises how such a scheme can be implemented and monitored: in general, impossibility of adequate control resulted in exclusion of transport sector from the Kyoto Protocol.

Also, for RSEU, the proposal of a simple exclusion of emissions from the volume of exported timber, does not seem constructive. If the role of forests would be reflected in the future climate agreement, simple exclusion from the agreement of timber sold from one country to another seems a sheer inconsistency.

In addition, RSEU believes that the Russian boreal forests should be reflected in the future agreement on climate along with tropical forests, and they should be given considerable attention, as the largest natural carbon sinks. Climate change threatens boreal forests, significant changes are observed in them already at the current warming level at 0.8 degrees Celsius. If the global warming level rises up to +3 to 5 degrees, boreal forests may come to complete degradation.