During the UNFCCC reviews of the EU GHG inventory several issues have been raised regarding the transparency of the inventory, e.g. harmonisation of methodologies and comparability across MS.

Although many MS provide detailed information in their NIR the level of transparency is very different. In order to reach a better harmonized EU GHG inventory the following important information should be provided in the NIR:

1. Category classification and description

Even though the six land use categories are defined in IPCC guidelines, it is important to clearly describe each land use category in the NIR. The national particular land use definitions in the NIR will contain the specific characteristics of the MS, what in turns will help the comparison within the EU countries.
Hence, in the case of forest land the definition should include minimum:

  • minimum area,
  • minimum tree crown cover at maturity,
  • minimum tree height at maturity

Additionally, it is convenient to mention the allocation of plantations, and when it comes to mixed land uses, as can be the case of agroforestry systems, it should be made clear the criteria and final allocation of each land.

IPCC guidelines offer the possibility, in fact encourage, to create land use sub-categories by splitting the six land uses established.

Using this approach, land use categories will be as internally homogeny as possible and undoubtedly different one from each other. Distinguishing different types of forest land, croplands, grassland, wetland and settlement will help to choose the most convenient default carbon change value. The more specific the land uses are, the easier will be to identified differences and similarities between countries emissions and parameters used in the estimates.
Examples of this subcategorization could be the disaggregation of:

  • Forestland: Conifers and deciduous
  • Croplands: annual and woody crop
  • Grasslands: meadows, shrublands and sparse forest (that do not reach the requirements to be a forest)
  • Wetlands: peatland, flooded land…

This description of the categories and their characteristics should be included at the beginning of the NIR LULUCF chapter to help the understanding of the text.

2. Methodology description

In many activities/pools, the methodology proposed for the variation of C in the pool is just the difference in the carbon pool between the current year and the past year (or a previous year and divided by the number of years passed).
However, this simplification hides the relevant parameters used in the estimation of the C pools, the real challenge in this sector:

  • Activity data
  • Parameters characterizing each land use and management approach

It is encourage to include a clear explanation of the method and underlying data used to estimate the C pools in every year of the series.

Additionally, in the case of country specific methods, they should be clearly explained and completely documented.

3. Description of activity data sources

On the one hand, at national level, it is possible (even usual) that several surveys as well as several cartographic sources co-exist. This fact is due to the diversity of the sector and the institutions or government departments dealing with the particular land uses (forests vs. croplands, e.g.). The consistency among this sources is probably not good, as the information is raised with different methodologies and for different purposes.

Nevertheless, it is essential to spend time ensuring the consistency of the data sources by adapting the data. Additionally, it is important to be aware and report the artificial inconsistencies that cannot be finally corrected.

On the other hand, discrepancy could also arise between national and international data. National data sources could include research studies not yet included in international data. It is important to point out that reporting to international institutions could be done by different government departments, maybe not even included in the Inventory System, or not up-to-date due to different timeline reporting.

In any case, it is good practice to include in the NIR arguments that support consistency between the diverse data sources, not only in a particular year but along the series. Additionally, it is important to include the reasons found for the discrepancies in the different sources and the rationale behind the decision made to choose one set of data over another.

4. Explanation of parameters

In LULUCF sector, one of the main difficulties is to find appropriate values for the parameters that characterized the land uses. Additionally, not always default IPCC parameters are available.

Using IPCC default parameters as well as using country specific ones require a precise explanation of the arguments/assumptions supporting that selection. Sometimes the selection is based on expert judgement, which may be documented, or on vague information, what should be pointed out as a need for future improvement.

5. Description of the notation key

MS may consider the use of different notation keys for similar cases, the explanation arguments supporting their use will help to harmonize EU countries reporting (here additional guidance on Notation keys use)

Due to the fusion of Agriculture and LULUCF sectors under AFOLU, the allocation of emissions may have changed from previous submissions. This has increased the importance of clearly indicate in which category emissions are allocated when using notation key IE.

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