LULUCF stands for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry. It is one out of six areas that nations report to the UN. More precisely, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The purpose of the reports is to fight climate change.
The reports get written as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The focus area LULUCF is one of the most important sectors to do this, as it causes enormous emissions today. Also, the sector can work as a carbon sink. For example, a forest has a high capability to store CO2. Forestry and deforestation hinder or minimize this possibility.
Furthermore, nations report on the progress with LULUCF once a year. For example, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the reports in Sweden.
An example of LULUCF work
As mentioned, the reports focus on greenhouse gas emissions and removals. Other areas among LULUFC are the energy sector and the Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) sector. If one takes Sweden as an example, the nation has been reporting on these developments yearly since 1990. More so, the calculations have been aligning with the guidelines of the IPCC since 2006. The Swedish reports, as well as the reports from other nations, are available on the UNFCCC webpage.
As mentioned above, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for Sweden’s climate reporting. In short, the organization delegates tasks to SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) and SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), among others.
Furthermore, the reports have contributed to a discussion on the sustainability of Swedish forestry. The Swedish model uses forests for “maximum benefit within the framework of what sustainable forestry can be”. This clashes with the European Union (EU) regulations, which exist to protect forests so that they can store carbon. The Swedish forest industry harvests forests rapidly for wood and biofuel. In contrast, the EU states that deforestation should be regulated and have a clear limit.
The debate on Swedish forestry
Today there is a highly polarised debate on Swedish forestry. For example, the organization “Swedish Nature Conservation Society” (Naturskyddsföreningen) reported on it to the EU in 2022. They argue that Swedish forestry breaks the laws of the EU. Such as the aim to protect biodiversity in forests.
This section continues with the example of the LULUCF reporting from Sweden. In detail, the previously mentioned report on LULUCF from SLU has six parts. These are forest lands, agricultural lands, pasturelands, wetlands, build-up lands and other lands. For example, they report on changes in the carbon stock of cultivated land, such as forest land. In other words, the reports highlight how much carbon gets stored in forest lands. Notably, a tree stores carbon in parts like roots and branches. Also, CO2 is bound in dead material, like dead wood. Therefore, storage in newly built buildings, like wooden houses, is included.
More so, the LULUCF reports include emissions of nitrous oxide. This section looks at mineralization and emissions from forest fires.
Another simple way of understanding LULUFC is that it refers to the amount of carbon stored in soils and forests. The report gives an overall picture of the annual net removal of greenhouse gases, meaning the total emissions and removals by the LULUCF sector.