Assess business as usual (BAU) scenarios

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Stage 3

Long term business-as-usual (BAU) emissions scenarios/pathways

  • Economy-wide pathways
  • Sectoral pathways
  • Discussion of data sources and modeling assumptions

3a.2.1. Review existing scenarios and data used

Land-use sectors

The stakeholder group can establish one or more baseline reference scenarios for landscapes to describe the emissions expected in the absence of a low-emissions development strategy. This business-as-usual should be based on historic landscape-based emissions, adjusted, as appropriate, to include projections to 2050 for the economy, development (e.g., income, access to improved water sources), land use, forest cover change, agricultural expansion and carbon emissions. Reference scenarios for landscapes require information on land cover change and the carbon content of different land cover and land uses.

It may not be possible to definitively choose one reference scenario in the absence of UNFCCC-negotiated guidelines and processes. Until that is clarified, it may be necessary to create a set of different scenarios that vary depending on assumptions related to the projected effect of existing policy reforms and on which future reforms would or would not have happened in absence of LEDS. Different assumptions of future market demand will also strongly affect the reference scenario, as will the base year(s) chosen.

Reliable estimates of land cover change and carbon inventories of different land uses and land cover types require in-depth studies and are not available in many countries. As a result, many countries will not have the data necessary to establish credible reference scenarios. Countries that have already initiated REDD+ readiness activities will have begun work to determine a reference scenario for emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The scoping and planning step of this framework will determine how far along a county is in developing a reference scenario and if the necessary data exists. In the absence of robust data on landscape-based emissions, coarse estimates of historic land cover change can be approximated by widely available remote sensing data coupled with default carbon stock factors. In these cases, improving the carbon inventory and land cover data will be part of the LEDS plan, and the reference scenario will be continually refined as better data is available.

As with many steps in this framework, determining a reference scenario requires integrating technical assistance into a political process and highlighting the need for stakeholder buy-in, especially by national leaders.

3a.2.2. Create and refine new BAU pathway(s) out to 2050
3a.2.3. Document assumptions and data used in models
3a.2.4. Share results with stakeholder groups for information and feedback