Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BOTTOMLINE is the baseline

Setting a baseline for a project has changed dramatically in the new Methodology regime. Instead of one baseline approach there are now 5 or 6, based on the principle that the more accurate the baseline is as a reflection of the likely trajectory of the volumes moving through sources and sinks within the boundaries of the project before the project starts, the more accurate the accounting of the change in land management will be. This will need more than one type of baseline to cover the variety of situations. For instance, in some circumstances, it could be assumed that, the trend in emissions and sequestration will be the same in the future as it has been in the past in the absence of a project. In these cases it would be reasonable to derive baselines from historical emissions data or carbon stocks. This is called a Historic Baseline, looking backwards. Looking forwards, Baselines can be set using projected or modelled estimates of future carbon stocks or emissions under various scenarios. A baseline scenario for a projected baseline must describe the activities driving the future trend in carbon stocks or emissions, and provide evidence to justify why it is reasonable to assume this trend would indeed occur. But wait… there’s more! Baselines may be constant, ratcheted or indexed, it depends on what the trend in emissions would have been in absence of the CFI project. Constant baselines are set at a fixed level. Ratcheted baselines change over time, reflecting a pre-existing trend in emissions…  declining or increasing. Indexed baselines are based on a particular variable which directly affects the project emissions and sequestration, for example, rainfall or herd size.

Reforestation project with constant baseline. In this example, the baseline assumes a continuation of the past land use (e.g. pasture that was clear of trees) in which the carbon stock was low and unchanging. In the project scenario the carbon stock increases over time due to sequestration in the growing trees, and is levelling out as the forest matures.

 In this example, the declining baseline indicates that a reduction in emissions was expected in absence of the project (for example, representing a pre-existing trend of reducing fertiliser use over time). The projected emissions under the project scenario demonstrate the additional reductions in emissions from fertiliser use delivered by the project.

In this example, the increasing baseline indicates that emissions are expected to rise in absence of the project. Emissions also rise under the project scenario, but at a lower rate than the baseline (for example, through improved pasture management practices that reduce the rate of carbon loss from soil). Thus, the project provides emissions reductions from the ‘business-as-usual’ baseline; these reductions are additional and can be credited under the CFI.

In this agricultural example, the baseline and the project emissions are indexed against a variable, in this case the number of animals within the greenhouse gas assessment boundary. The project activity reduces emissions by a fixed 30% on the baseline, while the indexed baseline is used to account for fluctuations in herd size included in the project over time.

•  DO YOU NEED HELP? With getting a project up on your property? With a Methodology? With preparing a submission for a Methodology Determination? With the Purchase of Offsets? With measuring your Carbon Footprint? Carbon Farmers of Australia is Licensed to give advice on the CFI. Call 612+6374 0329


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