Thursday, November 21, 2013

6. New layers of complexity

Problem: Changes to the  Guidelines for Submitting Methodologies have added a new layer of complexity and expense and delay: proponents have to include the effects of background variability such as climate or rainfall when calculating a business as usual baseline. A dry spell could inflate the impact of an N2O suppression project. The reverse – extra rainfall – could boost soil carbon stock. The farmer would appear to be getting more than they should if rainfall was normal. (What’s normal? How can we calculate against weather patterns that are presumably ahistorical – affected by climate change?) “The purpose of such adjustments is to ensure that reported abatement (and hence crediting) provides an accurate reflection of the impact of changes in management practices on carbon stocks over time. Unless such adjustments are made, credits could be issued for temporary abatement.” (The permanence of abatement is not a function of background variability.) The complexity and expense of such a requirement far outweighs the need to eliminate the element of luck from the transaction. In many cases, getting more rain than the neighbours is not a matter of luck but planning. Revegetating the landscape can have the effect of creating a ‘micro-climate’ – cooling the air above and attracting more moisture. Practical solution: Abandon background variability as a requirement. Nothing will be gained or lost.

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