The European Union has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and has been a key player insisting in the environmental integrity of the UNFCCC in the global climate negotiations. The EU has thus a particular interest in understanding the driving forces of the Carbon Cycle and the possibilities for mitigation by increasing terrestrial carbon uptake. Furthermore, the European land-surface is currently thought to be absorbing up to 30% of the industrial CO2 emissions, but also releasing more than 40% of the European CH4 and N2O emissions. CarboEurope-IP will significantly enhance the understanding of, and the methodologies for the observation, quantification and prediction of the terrestrial Carbon Cycle of Europe in order to fulfil the political need for accurate estimates of regional carbon sinks and sources. CarboEurope-IP will provide critical knowledge to adequately trace the carbon fluxes and identify the ecosystem compartments in which carbon is ultimately immobilised. CarboEurope-IP attempts to have this observation system in place 5 years before the First Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), and to operate it for an equivalent time period as the Commitment Period. It thus may act as a test run for the feasibility of detecting the biospheric carbon sources and sinks and changes in fossil fuel emissions over this politically important time span of 5 years.
Key research products of CarboEurope-IP include improved quantitative estimates of the European carbon balance and new technologies that help reduce the associated uncertainties. Collaboration with initiatives that followed the CarboEurope approach outside Europe , in particular joint EU-US assessments of the carbon budget together with the North American Carbon Program (NACP) have already been agreed. In conjunction with our commitments in international science programmes such as the Global Carbon Project (GCP), IGBP and TCO-IGCO, the results of CarboEurope-IP will also contribute to an improved understanding and quantitative estimate of the global carbon balance. For the first time ever, a pre-operational system will be developed within CarboEurope-IP that can provide estimates of the present biospheric CO2 budget at sufficient spatial resolution for monitoring and verification at national and continental scale under the Kyoto Protocol. This system will also be able to verify the claims of other Kyoto signatories, independent of the UNFCCC submissions, thus strengthening the European position in future UNFCCC negotiations.
CarboEurope-IP will also improve our understanding of the attribution of the terrestrial carbon sink to human-induced versus indirect or natural factors via Europe-wide data synthesis, modelling and the development of a carbon data assimilation system. This will also help to develop strategies for greenhouse gas mitigation and carbon sequestration in forestry and agriculture in a multi-functional framework. The project will strengthen Europe ’s leading role in terrestrial carbon cycle research, while at the same time generating the knowledge base essential for sustainable land resource management in Europe .
Furthermore, CarboEurope-IP develops general principles for carbon observing systems which will also be applicable at project scale such as under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and eventual future accounting schemes in the Second Commitment Period.
updated by Yvonne Hofmann,