LULUCF stands for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry. It is one out of six areas that nations report on to the UN. More preciesely, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The reports that LULUCF is a part of aims to fight climate change.
The climate change reports are done with the purpose to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The focus area LULUCF is one of the most important ones for this. Partly since these sections are responsible for huge emissions today. But also because they can function as large carbon sinks. The latter refers to, for example, a forests capability of storing CO2 if it is not cut down.
Nations report on the progress with LULUCF once a year. In for example Sweden, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) is responsible for these reports.
LULUCF in Sweden
As mentioned, the focus of the reports is greenhouse gas emissions and removals. Other areas among LULUFC are for example the energy sector and the Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) sector. Sweden reports on these developments on a yearly basis since 1990. More so, the calculations are aligned with the guidelines of the IPCC since 2006. The Swedish reports, as well as the reports from other nations, are available at the UNFCCC webpage.
As mentioned above, it is the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency that 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.
In Sweden, these reports feed a discussion on Swedish forestry. This is because the EU has a regulation that protects forests so they can store carbon. This clashes with the Swedish model of using forests for “maximum benefit within the framework of what sustainable forestry can be”. In other words, this regulation clashes with the Swedish forest industry. An organisation that harvest forests at a rapid pace for wood and biofuel. In contrast, the EU states that deforestation should be regulated and have a “deforestation ceiling”.
The debate on Swedish forestry
Today there is a highly polarized debate on Swedish forestry. For example, the organization “Swedish Nature Conservation Society” (Naturskyddsföreningen) has reported on the subject to the EU. The report was sent in in 2022. It aruges that Swedish forestry is not aligned with the laws of the EU. Such as the aim to protect biodiversity in forests.
The report on LULUCF from SLU is divided into six parts. These are forest land, agricultural land, pastureland, wetland, build-up land and other land. 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 is being stored in forest lands. Since carbon is stored in all the parts of the tree, such as roots and branches. More so, it is stored in dead material, such as dead wood.
Other elements that are reported on are emissions of nitrous oxide. This includes mineralization and emissions from forest fires. The reports also include the storage of carbon in for example newly built wooden houses.
Another way of understanding LULUFC is that it simply refers to how much carbon gets stored in soils and forests. The report gives an overall picture of the annual net removal of greenhouse gases. This means that the total sum of emissions and removals by the LULUCF sector is reported on.