The Mullion Group recently completed a global run for tree cover changes using FLINTpro, covering almost all of the Earth’s terrestrial surfaces. The ‘FLINTpro Global Run’ provides estimates of gains, losses, and net change (gains minus losses) in carbon stock due to tree cover loss and gain by country, as well as aggregated into world regions. The FLINTpro Global Run was used to calculate the relative metric growth rate in CO2 emissions from land cover for the recent release of the Environmental Performance Index (“EPI”) produced jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.
The FLINTpro Global Run was developed specifically to support Yale’s Environmental Performance Index by providing, for the first time, the data required to calculate a relative metric growth rate in CO2 emissions from land cover for almost every country in the world.
The land sector is, unfortunately, often excluded from GHG emissions analysis due to the difficulty and cost of developing reliable estimates. However, excluding land sector emissions altogether leads to an unbalanced view of emissions trends, especially between countries and regions. For example, land sector emissions often make up a large proportion of total emissions in developing countries compared to developed countries, due in part to the larger economic focus on forest and agricultural activities. Many counties have also looked to reduce emissions and increase removals in the land sector before other sectors.
We developed the FLINTpro Global Run to address these issues by showing it is possible to start to include land sector metrics and to support the EPI team. The results are well suited for the development of comparative indices, such as the EPI metrics, that aim to use a common base of all countries. This is distinct from a national greenhouse gas inventory of carbon stock or stock change for international reporting purposes. No policy or reporting rules have been applied and the system does not apply country specific definitions. Further, no country specific data was included in this process. As such the results should not be compared with national inventory outputs and cannot be used as the basis for any project-level or other accounting.
While these data serve a specific purpose, FLINTpro is a highly modular and flexible framework that has been designed specifically to suit multiple needs. As such, by replacing the input data and models used in this run with user specific data (e.g., individual countries, companies or others), it is possible to easily improve the outputs and use the results for international reporting purposes, including for project level analysis and reporting. This highlights the benefit of having an operational tool, such as FLINTpro, where incremental improvement can be made in outputs as improved data becomes available. This will also allow for the future improvement of the EPI metrics to include improved data as it becomes available. This forms the basis for covering a broader range of land use types, carbon pools and emissions and removals in future iterations.
The Mullion team is always keen to collaborate with researchers, governments, companies and NGOs to incorporate new and improved methods and data into the open source FLINT and FLINTpro. We have existing partnerships with several groups and are happy to test and compare data. If you are keen to collaborate please reach out through firstname.lastname@example.org.