What is the risk of overestimating emission reductions from forests -- and what can be done about it?

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Author: Till Neeff
Date: May 2021
From: Climatic Change(Vol. 166, Issue 1-2)
Publisher: Springer
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 231 words

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Abstract :

Keywords: Uncertainty analysis; Forest monitoring; REDD+; Greenhouse gas emissions; Mitigation Abstract A high risk of overestimating emission reductions would be detrimental to the credibility of forest mitigation. But high-quality information on uncertainties in measuring emissions from forests is hard to obtain because of frequent shortcomings in uncertainty analyses. This paper aims to gauge what precision is achievable by examining data from several contexts (including data from 18 countries that have proposed jurisdictional mitigation programmes to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Carbon Fund). Countries reported random uncertainties in measuring forest carbon density (mostly 5--15% of the mean at the 90% confidence level), forest areas and their changes (mostly 0--20% for forest loss and forest degradation and 10--40% for forest gain), and greenhouse gas emissions (mostly 10--30%). It follows that uncertainties may be substantial in estimating emission reductions from forests and land-use change, and that these uncertainties entail significant risks of overestimation. I propose discount factors (between 9 and 44%) to conservatively adjust emission reduction estimates and reduce the overestimation risk. The paper concludes by pointing out that uncertainties are much lower for aggregate emission reductions of several programmes than they are for individual programmes. Discounting individual programmes' emission reductions could therefore lead to understating the mitigation contribution that forests deliver. Author Affiliation: (1) Berlin, Germany (a) till@neeff.com Article History: Registration Date: 03/25/2021 Received Date: 09/03/2020 Accepted Date: 02/02/2021 Online Date: 05/31/2021 Byline:

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A663698252