Introduction to Climate Change

12. The Role of Forests and Land-Use Changes in the Kyoto Protocol

Both the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol clearly contemplate that sinks such as forests would be within the ambit of the climate regime. Most significantly, Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol allows for Parties to meet their target level by counting the net changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human induced "afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation" since 1990. This provision was especially unclear and open to interpretation, and thus generated enormous debate during the post Kyoto negotiations. The Kyoto Protocol's coverage of forests raised many difficult and controversial issues. Afforestation, reforestation and deforestation were not defined in the Protocol, leaving them open for a wide range of definitions that could fundamentally change the effect of the Protocol in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.