Contested Common Land: Environmental Governance Past and Present


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Better outcomes on upland commons

These demonstrate that cultural assumptions concerning the value of common land have changed across the centuries, with profound consequences for the law, land management, the legal expression of concepts of 'property' and the exercise of common rights. The 'stakeholders' of today are the inheritors of this complex cultural legacy, and must negotiate diverse and sometimes conflicting objectives in their pursuit of a potentially unifying goal: a secure future for the commons.

Environmentalists call for environmental governance prioritisation

Contested Common Land also has considerable contemporary relevance. It provides a timely contribution to discussions surrounding the implementation of the Commons Act of This Act has introduced a new legal framework for the governance of common land by self-regulating commons councils. The case studies set this this within the wider context of institutional scholarship on the governance principles for successful common pool resource management, and the rejection of the 'tragedy of the commons'. Custom and the Culture of the Commons 3. Property Rights in the Modern Commons 5. Contemporary Governance of the Commons: the quest for sustainability.

Eskdale, Cumbria 7. Ingleborough and Scales Moor, North Yorkshire 8. Elan Valley, Powys 9. Brancaster and Thornham, Norfolk His publications include Agricultural Law 3rd edition , three edited collections on nature conservation and land use law, and numerous articles on agriculture and environmental law in the legal journals. Her doctoral research on the more recent history of common land management was published as Common Grazing in the Northern English Uplands Lampeter, His publications include The Harvest of the Hills: Rural Life in Northern England and the Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, , a study of pre-modern hill farming on common land.

She has published several articles on the environmental governance of the modern commons, in an Italian and English context. For sustainability questions we have to study more systems over time as this important collection of studies illustrates. Both rigorous and imaginative, the book shines a new light on English and Welsh commons and the landscape more widely. The project team reveal their rich and remarkably resilient history as a working country in the face of periodical challenges, with the capacity for a new lease of life in a wider, international, world concerned with sustainability.

With complementary expertise, the authors show that common land is a topical as well as traditional place, a diverse and dynamic social and environmental resource, a repository of complex uses and values, a living landscape that demands careful cultural appreciation as well as effective conservation and practical management. It deserves to remain on their shelves permanently, as a source of reference and inspiration. Newsletter Google 4.

Contested Common Land: environmental governance, law and sustainable land management c.1600-2006

Help pages. As we noted earlier, land is the only sector where CO 2 is not only emitted via forest burning and clearing and land-use change for agriculture, among other activities , but also sequestered via photosynthesis. As such, there were a wide variety of political positions articulated at this time on why and how the land sector was different, and thus how valid the assumption of fungibility was. Fungibility was simultaneously much debated in scientific circles and continues to be. While some see it as unproblematic e.


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For example, with regard to non-permanence of soil carbon sequestration, Powlson et al. The political decision to assume fungibility between terrestrial and industrial emissions also laid the basis for including land-based mitigation in developing countries within the parameters of the Kyoto Protocol. This was achieved through the Clean Development Mechanism CDM of the Kyoto Protocol, which allowed developed countries to partially meet their Kyoto targets by purchasing credits generated from emission reduction projects in developing countries i.

Reliance on land-based mitigation was more limited in the CDM than under LULUCF, largely due to the sheer scale of potential credits the unrestricted inclusion of land could yield given higher deforestation rates, and greater land areas in developing countries. This followed particular opposition to the inclusion of avoided deforestation as a crediting activity in the CDM, with Brazil, China and AOSIS raising concerns about the potential for such credits to offset an increase in developed country industrial emissions Fry These political decisions on including land-based mitigation in the climate regime, accompanied by a selective evoking or ignoring of scientific disputes over fungibility, shaped negotiation of LULUCF accounting rules, to which we turn next.

This technical negotiating site saw LULUCF negotiators employing complex scientific arguments about the intricacies of accounting for terrestrial emissions and removals, yet doing so in a way that suited their specific circumstances, i.

In analyzing these dynamics here, we review below the contested negotiations around, first, the scope and scale of permitted land-based mitigation and, second, baselines and reference levels against which to account for land-based mitigation. Scope i. The political compromise reached was to develop an accounting innovation: the activity - based approach to LULUCF accounting, i.

A widely asserted technical reason for this was to help distinguish between anthropogenic i. Once an activity-based approach was selected, however, another key axis of conflict became whether all land-related activities were to be mandatory or whether countries could choose which ones if any to rely upon in meeting their Kyoto targets.

Countries negotiated extensively on this, with the political implications of these choices obscured by technically complex discussions of GHG fluxes associated with each designated activity. Eventually, only the activities of forest clearing and forest planting since were declared to be mandatory to account for. Countries could choose whether or not to account for other land-use activities, including forest management , which is potentially a large source of both emissions and removals Ecosystems Climate Alliance While some existing analyses of this negotiated division between mandatory and voluntary activities for LULUCF accounting emphasize the technical rationales underpinning them e.

contested common land environmental governance past and present Manual

In addition to deciding on which activities to include, LULUCF accounting rules also addressed limits on the use of terrestrial sources and sinks i. If the bar is too low, you do not reduce emissions. It is very hard to balance. The compromise reached was for countries to politically negotiate their own cap on LULUCF, which had the effect of generating substantial credits that countries could use in meeting their Kyoto targets.

How negotiation of LULUCF accounting rules serves as a site of political conflict was also evident in debates around the baselines against which to assess terrestrial emissions and removals in a given period. Agreeing on baselines is substantially more complex for the land sector than it is for industrial emissions, given that land is the only sector with emissions as well as removals.


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Industrial emission reductions are straightforwardly assessed through a gross—gross baseline approach, wherein emissions in a base year are compared with emissions in the reporting period Rocha et al. However, inclusion of emissions and removals in the same accounting framework requires, logically, a net—net approach. While scientifically tenable, the political challenge of using a net—net approach, however, is that any increase in emissions from the land sector in the reporting period would make targets more difficult to meet.

This does not include emissions and removals from forest-related activities in the baseline, which reflects only industrial emissions, but does allow for both industrial and selected forest-related activities to be accounted for during the subsequent reporting and commitment period Iversen et al. The gross-net approach is favoured by those countries with an overall forest sink i.

The gross-net approach was, however, not supported by countries where the forest sector is an overall source of emissions i. It proved, furthermore, to be a boon for those countries including in the EU with low deforestation rates but with intensive forest management, given that forest management was a voluntary activity that could be excluded from consideration in meeting first commitment period Kyoto targets. The contested process of negotiating politically palatable but also scientifically defensible baselines continued for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol — With the flexibility to exclude this activity now removed, and the accounting benefits that this flexibility had earlier conferred now gone, the EU called for forest management not to be subject to a gross-net baseline, but rather for development of a so-called Forest Management Reference Level FMRL Iversen et al.

The use of reference levels is another unique accounting innovation in this context, developed as a political compromise between those trying to improve the credibility of accounting rules and those wanting to maintain flexibility in use of LULUCF to meet targets. The FMRL means that instead of a baseline against which to judge performance in a given period, countries can propose a quantified expected future level of performance in terms of net emissions from forest management and compare this against actual emissions at the end of a commitment period Rocha et al.

However, any use of reference levels opens up the possibility of inflating future expectations of emissions, in order to make targets easier to meet. The credibility of the reference level approach is heavily reliant on technical review Briner and Konrad Yet reviews remain fraught with challenges, given extensive scientific uncertainties and varying political expectations.

The discussion above shows how the inclusion of land-use to date in the multilateral climate regime reflects politically negotiated compromises, despite the ostensibly technical character of LULUCF accounting rules. Through political negotiations and compromise, complex accounting rules were designed to both permit and limit the degree to which terrestrial sinks could be used to offset industrial emissions.

We turn to these issues next. The architecture of the post climate regime differs from that of the Kyoto Protocol. In contrast to having multilaterally negotiated emission reduction targets for countries, the overall ambition level is agreed multilaterally in the Paris Agreement through the temperature goal Article 2. As in the previous section, we proceed here by first analyzing the dynamics of governing i.

Second, we consider the current state of debate regarding accounting for land-based mitigation in the Paris Agreement. Here, we touch briefly upon divergent views over whether a common accounting framework is required for all countries and associated debates over whether such a common framework requires countries to take on quantified targets, including for the land sector. Analyzing the prospects for a disciplining of expertise in the manner in which land is implicated in the Paris Agreement requires consideration of the long-term mitigation goal articulated within it.

Negotiations on language to capture aggregate mitigation ambition were long and intense, in the lead up to finalization of the agreement in Paris. Article 4. Reliance on land-based mitigation in the Kyoto Protocol was introduced after targets for industrial emission reductions were set as discussed in Sect. In the Paris Agreement, on the other hand, land-based sinks have moved from being a politically contested add-on to occupying center stage in the long-term mitigation goal, as laid down in Article 4.

But why exactly does Article 4. So while a goal that essentially puts the world on a pathway toward net-zero global emissions appears ambitious, Article 4. With the land sector set to play a crucial and open-ended role in future climate mitigation under the Paris Agreement, a politically charged question is how accounting for this sector will occur in the post climate mitigation era, whether a common accounting framework is required for all countries, and if this requires countries to take on quantified targets, including for the land sector.

During negotiation of the Paris Agreement, the EU and the USA took the position that the purpose of a common accounting framework was to permit comparability, which in turn required quantified targets Ajit b. Whether all countries should provide quantified targets thus became, and remains, a particularly contentious issue, tied up with fundamental conflicts over whether inclusion of the land sector in NDCs is to be voluntary or mandatory and also whether the land sector can be included in any new market mechanisms established via Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Throughout the negotiations, countries proposed a variety of approaches to mitigation commitments, ranging from quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets e. This debate has particular relevance for the land sector, due to the difficulty of quantifying land sector emissions and the complexity of including these in an accounting framework that includes industrial emissions, as discussed in Sect. Included in economy-wide target. Net—net accounting based on inventory reporting. Included in economy-wide target, but accounting rules are yet to be established.

Conditional pledge will require market mechanisms; no reference to accounting rules.

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Provisional target pending approaches taken to land sector accounting and access to carbon markets. Included in economy-wide target, but accounting rules dependent on EU decisions. Based on author analysis of selected INDCs submitted in that included the land sector. It is difficult to find common accounting rules that suit all… sinks have evolved differently in different countries, leading to fighting over accounting rules to suit national circumstances.

The diversity of country circumstances in the land sector also complicates the idea of comparability of effort. The diversity of country circumstances and approaches, as demonstrated in INDCs, points to the difficulty of having a common accounting framework for the land sector, which is highlighted in the politics of deciding upon baselines or reference levels for terrestrial emissions. Some countries argue that common accounting rules for all would be feasible, including for the land sector, as long as flexibility exists to set land-based mitigation reference levels appropriate to national circumstances.

Rather than technicalizing what are fundamentally political conflicts, future discussions on the scale, scope, and accounting approaches to land-based mitigation face the challenge of how to reveal and engage with, rather than obscure, the political choices and trade-offs therein. In the recently negotiated Paris Agreement, land-based mitigation has moved from an earlier marginal and contested role in multilateral climate politics to center stage.

As we have shown here, over -reliance on land-based sinks could have far-reaching political consequences, given the likely distributional impacts of land-based mitigation, and concerns over fungibility in using terrestrial sinks to offset industrial emissions. Furthermore, accounting rules for the land sector remain a crucial site wherein the level of ambition in the new agreement, and allocation of responsibility and burden sharing among countries, will be negotiated.

This notwithstanding, in a context where removals via terrestrial sinks are expected to make a significant contribution to achieving the long-term mitigation goal, this implies a need for land to shift, eventually, from being a net source globally to a net sink. With this in mind, our analysis reveals the need for a more open political debate over diverse mitigation pathways and their implications over the course of the century, one which takes into account the social and environmental limits to land-based mitigation.

Negotiating limits to land-based mitigation that consider not only the technical, but also the political, socioeconomic and equity aspects is necessary, in determining how much, where, and what type of land-based abatement can reasonably be relied upon for climate mitigation. Land is the only sector where CO 2 is not only emitted via forest burning and clearing and land-use change for agriculture, among other activities , but also sequestered via photosynthesis.

By lack of environmental integrity, we mean a discrepancy between what is accounted for, and what the atmosphere sees. The research has also informed the development of a statutory commons council for Cumbria by the Federation of Cumbria Commoners under Part 2 Commons Act By the policy community, national stakeholder groups and NGOs.

This has resulted in them emphasising the need for locally mediated solutions to self-management that take account of property rights and the historical development of appropriators' rights and duties.

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Contested Common Land: Environmental Governance Past and Present Contested Common Land: Environmental Governance Past and Present
Contested Common Land: Environmental Governance Past and Present Contested Common Land: Environmental Governance Past and Present
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