Land Use Change and Forestry Climate Project Regional Baselines: A Review

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Climate change programs have largely used the project-specific approach for estimating baseline emissions of climate mitigation projects. This approach is subjective, lacks transparency, can generate inconsistent baselines for similar projects, and is likely to have high transaction costs. The use of regional baselines, which partially addresses these issues, has been reported in the literature on forestry and agriculture projects, and in greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation program guidance for them (e.g., WRI/WBCSD GHG Project Protocol, USDOE's 1605(b) registry, UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism). This paper provides an assessment of project-specific and regional baselines approaches for key baseline tasks, using project and program examples. The regional experience to date is then synthesized into generic steps that are referred to as Stratified Regional Baselines (SRB). Regional approaches generally, and SRB in particular explicitly acknowledge the heterogeneity of carbon density, land use change, and other key baseline driver variables across a landscape. SRB focuses on providing guidance on how to stratify lands into parcels with relatively homogeneous characteristics to estimate conservative baselines within a GHG assessment boundary, by applying systematic methods to determine the boundary and time period for input data.

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