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[Duurzaamlijst] UN climate report clarifies "sinks" - Swedish leak

Today I found at Planetark the direction into which
UN is thinking to rescue climate talks:

use forests as sinks.

This raises at least these three fundamental questions:

a. is it reasonable to expect that current nature can absorb
all "old carbon" from fossil fuels whereas it was in equilibrium at
preindustrial levels?

b. Is carbon counting in forests done in a reliable way?
I have recently read about some evidence, that carbon
counting in USA forests is done in a most unreliable way.

c. Is it possible to have carbon counted by satellites or at least
air-borne instruments?

This simply means, that most carbon sequestration only
serves to keep nature in equilibrium, and there is only room
for sequestering carbon from fossil fuels at places where
plants did not grow before the industrial revolution.

All other places can only be used to repair the damage
done to climate change by landuse change alone.

So it can be regarded as very unwise to think that current
remnants of once lush rainforests and other types of vegetation
are able to absorb an overdosis carbon from fossil fuels
as the destruction of rainforests itself has been a big
contribution to current CO2 levels.

Please comment on these questions.

Warm regards,
Leonard Kater

UN climate report clarifies "sinks" - Swedish leak

SWEDEN: April 11, 2001

STOCKHOLM - A Swedish government official gave the first
clues yesterday as to the contents of a new U.N. environmental
report intended to rescue world climate talks.

The U.N. paper outlines how countries could meet targets
to reduce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide
(CO2) by counting their forests as "sinks" which absorb
the CO2 emissions produced by human activity, the
Swedish official leaked to Reuters.
"The paper spells out that sinks could be used to meet
targets to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, by how much,
and says what type of projects would be allowed,"
the official said.

The head of the U.N.'s panel for climate change,
Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, told Reuters
in an interview a week ago he hoped the paper,
a policy compromise, could save the Kyoto treaty
to cut greenhouse gases despite U.S. objections.

U.N.-led climate talks to cut greenhouse gases
broke down in November last year because of a
dispute how much importance should be placed
on the role of sinks.

The United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand
and Canada argued for them to be given greater
weight in calculating countries' quotas of emissions
than the EU would accept.

The U.N. proposals would allow industrialised
countries with reduction targets to count their
encouragement of sinks in developing countries
as a contribution towards meeting their own
emissions targets, the official said.

The United States said last month it would
abandon the Kyoto Protocol, arguing it would
do too much economic harm to the United States
to cut CO2 unless forest sinks were counted
in the calculations.

"We have just received the paper and it's hard
to say how much they've changed the targets
for the different countries and what concessions
have been made to the USA," the official said.

He said representatives from the EU were
scheduled to meet in Brussels during the day
to discuss the new paper.


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