Understanding GHG Fluxes from Forests & Land Use

Land use, including forests, is critically important to achieving Paris Agreement goals — particularly reaching carbon balance by the second half of the century.  Currently the “land sink” (mostly forests) absorbs one-third of global carbon pollution (largely from fossil fuels), and thus is a critically important part of the global carbon budget.

However, many people feel that understanding how forests and land use relate to climate change is confusing — particularly confounding to many is their treatment within the UNFCCC.  The materials below have been created to help de-mystify and explain land use-related mitigation, with a focus on forests and their respective GHG fluxes. They seek to explain:

  • The mitigation potential of forests and the potential to expand the sink through forestation
  • How forests (and land use) are treated within the UNFCCC, including the differences between reporting and accounting of GHG emissions and removals
  • Why country reporting of GHG fluxes from forests (e.g. in national GHG inventories) may differ from independent estimates and why understanding this is critical for the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement

Comments and/or questions are most welcome.  Please email: forestfluxes@clua.net

Funding for these products has been provided by the Climate and Land Use Alliance. The authors are solely responsible for the content.

Large Scale Forestation for Climate Mitigation:
Lessons from South Korea, China, and India

This report analyzes the long-term experiences of three countries that achieved significant carbon sequestration from tree planting and, from this, draws lessons on what is needed, and what could be achievable more broadly for climate mitigation.

See Report »

Forest Mitigation:
A Permanent Contribution to the Paris Agreement?

This paper explains why forest mitigation should be considered on par with emission reductions from other sectors such as fossil fuels, refuting the notion—often expressed—that forest mitigation is not permanent.

See Working Paper »

GHG Fluxes from Forests: An assessment of national GHG estimates and independent research

This report seeks to clarify which forest-related emissions and removals are (and are not) included in national GHG inventories submitted to the UNFCCC and to identify and explain divergences with independent studies, including those summarized in IPCC Assessment Reports.

See Report »

UNFCCC Accounting for Forests: What’s in and what’s out of NDCs and REDD+

This policy brief provides information on how forests are included in GHG inventories, NDCs and REDD+ reference levels, why their scope may differ, and other issues around “accounting” for forest-related mitigation performance.

See Policy Brief »

Understanding Land Use in the UNFCCC

This guide seeks to explain the treatment of land use under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including requirements for reporting GHG emissions and removals, accounting under the Kyoto Protocol, and guidance for REDD+.

See Guide »