Carbon Accounting Methodology – Activate! Tree Planting

August 2011

Maia Maia Emissions Reduction Currency System

Carbon Accounting Methodology

Men of the Trees
Activate! Tree Planting Project


  1. Introduction

This report outlines methods that will be used to estimate the reduction in the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere achieved through the Activate! Tree Planting Project (the Project).  Carbon sequestration brought about through the Project will back an issue of Boya by Men of the Trees to volunteers involved in planting activities.  

This report first identifies carbon sinks and emissions to be accounted for, before outlining accounting methods that will be used.  The report includes discussion of issues encountered in conducting carbon accounting for reforestation projects, namely uncertainty, leakage and additionality.  The report concludes with a list of records that should be kept by Men of the Trees (the Issuer) in order to use the methods to calculate greenhouse gas removal achieved by the Project.

  1. Project Description

The 2011 Activate! Tree Planting Project will be held in the Morbinning Catchment Group on 6 7 August 2011.  Morbinning is situated near Beverley, in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.  Volunteers will plant seedlings to restore native vegetation on three farming properties.  The aim is to plant about 55,000 seedlings, covering an area of 17 hectares.

  1. Carbon Pools and Emissions to be Accounted For

Both carbon sequestration and emissions should be accounted for in order to estimate the net change in the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere brought about by the Project.  However, in defining carbon flows to be estimated, the principle of materiality should be applied.  Only sources that are expected to result in a material or significant change in carbon flows, over and above that which would occur if the Project did not take place, should be accounted for.

The removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by sequestration is the major change in carbon stocks to be accounted for.  The method used to estimate sequestration is outlined in Section 4.1.  It is assumed that any sequestration that would occur under baseline conditions, if the Project did not take place, would be negligible.  The planting will be carried out on land that has been previously cleared for agriculture but is currently fallow with a sparse covering of grasses and weeds.  Therefore, greenhouse gas reductions in the absence of carrying out the Project are assumed to be zero and will not be accounted for.

Scope 1 emissions (emissions resulting directly from project activities) and scope 2 emissions (emissions resulting from the generation of electricity used during the project) were considered for inclusion in the accounting methodology.  Scope 3 emissions were not considered.  

Emissions from vehicles used to transport volunteers, equipment and seedlings to the planting sites will be estimated.  The method used to estimate these emissions is presented in Section 4.2.

Project emissions from the following activities, compared to emissions that would occur under baseline conditions, are assumed to be negligible and will not be accounted for:

  1. Accounting Methods

  1. Carbon Sequestration

Method Description

Carbon sequestration brought about by the Project will be modelled using FullCAM.  FullCAM is used by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to estimate changes in carbon stocks that occur due to land use change.  These estimates are used in compiling Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.  Therefore, FullCAM, is considered an appropriate model.  The most up-to-date version of FullCAM (version 3.0 released in 2005) will be used.

FullCAM models the removal of carbon from the atmosphere as a result of planting trees.  It also takes into consideration the return of carbon to the atmosphere, for example as it moves from plant debris and soil to the atmosphere due to decomposition (Richard et al. 2005).  

Data Requirements

The data required to run FullCAM to simulate the removal of carbon from the atmosphere is:

Assumptions

Sequestration Estimates

A run of FullCAM has been carried out based on one plot in the Project site.  From the results of this model run, 15 tonnes of carbon per hectare will be sequestered as a result of the Project.  The model results and assumptions are recorded in the plot file for the Project which is included as an appendix to this report.

  1. Emissions from Vehicles

Method Description

Emissions from vehicles used for transport during the Project will be estimated using methods from the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Measurement) Determination 2008.  The methods will thus be consistent with those that must be used by businesses for reporting of their emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS).  Methods from the current version of the Determination, as used for the 2010-11 NGERS reporting year, will be used.

Data Requirements

Method

Method 1 under Section 2.41 of the NGER Determination for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of liquid fuel uses the following calculation:

Where:

Eij is the emissions of gas type (j), being carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide, released from the combustion of fuel type (i) measured in CO2-e tonnes

Qi is the quantity of fuel type (i) combusted, measured in kilolitres and estimated on the basis of invoices for the fuel

ECi is the energy content factor of fuel type (i)

EFijoxec is the emission factor for each gas type (j) released (which includes the effect of an oxidation factor) measured in kilograms CO2-e per gigajoule of fuel type (i)

The emission factors for transport energy will be used as the majority of vehicles used during the Project are road registered.  The energy content and emission factors to be used are given in the table below.

Fuel

Energy content factor (GJ/kL)

Emission factor (kg CO2-e/GJ)

CO2

CH4

N2O

Petrol

34.2

66.7

0.6

2.3

Diesel

38.6

69.2

0.2

0.5

Assumptions

Assumptions of this method include:

  1. Uncertainty

Estimating carbon sequestration that will occur as a result of the Project involves considerable uncertainty.  There is a risk that the mortality rate of trees planted could be higher than anticipated.  There is also a risk that the area could be cleared again in the future to make way for an alternative land use.  Due to this uncertainty and risk of reversal, the total calculated level of carbon sequestration will be reduced by 30%.

If future monitoring indicates that reversal of plantings exceeds 30%, then the reduction in actual net sequestration achieved by the project will be deducted from Boya issues for future Men of the Trees planting projects.

  1. Other Issues

  1. Leakage

The Project is not expected to result in leakage of carbon emissions.  As mentioned above, the planting will be carried out on land that has been previously cleared for agriculture but is not currently used for cropping or grazing.  No vegetation will be cleared prior to carrying out the planting.  Due to the high proportion of land in the Wheatbelt that has been cleared, such that only a small fraction of the original area of native vegetation remains intact, the Project will not trigger the clearing of land or release of emissions outside the Project boundary.

  1. Additionality

Additionality is a concept defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in procedures for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).  Under the CDM, project proponents must demonstrate that a project will result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions beyond those that would have occurred in the absence of the project activity (UNFCCC 2006).  This concept is relevant to Maia Maia ERCS projects in a general sense.  It is not appropriate to require Boya Issuers to demonstrate whether a project would go ahead with or without the issue of Boya as a reward.  However, some effort and resources are required to achieve emissions reductions, and this is what is being acknowledged and rewarded by the issuing of Boya.  Boya are not issued for actions that happened in the past or that were undertaken by an unrelated third party.  Neither Men of the Trees or any other party will be allowed to claim the tree planting project as an offset.  

  1. Records to be kept by the Issuer

This section provides a summary of records that should be kept by the Issuer to allow Maia Maia ERCS to complete carbon accounting and to substantiate outcomes achieved by the project:

  1. References

Richards G, Evans D, Reddin A and Leitch J 2005, The FullCAM Carbon Accounting Model (Version 3.0) User Manual, Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

UNFCCC 2006, Modalities and procedures for a clean development mechanism in Report of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol on its first session, held at Montreal from 28 November to 10 December 2005, UNFCCC.

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