By the end of 2006, Norway will need to decide whether to seek credits for 3.4 activities under the Kyoto Protocol, of which Cropland Management is one option. Electing cropland management as an Article 3.4 activity requires consideration not only of benefits in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation, but also synergies and conflicts with other environmental and agriculture policy goals like erosion control, biodiversity, protection of farmed landscapes and food production. Afforestation of farmed organic soils (peatlands) will have a substantial benefit in reducing CO2 and N2O emissions in the longer term, but is not eligible under Article 3.4 (as it would fall in under Article 3.3, Afforestation). Restoration of farmed peatland to its original state and natural conversion will also reduce emissions of CO2 and N2O in the longer term (time scale of decades), but CH4 emissions will increase. This increase in methane emissions and current uncertainty associated with all fluxes of emissions are the key arguments against such restoration as a climate mitigation measure. Energy crops will sequester carbon in soil.
The climate and carbon credit benefits until 2012 would be small. Electing to undertake cropland management will require improved monitoring of soil organic carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, which can be costly. In light of small benefits and conflicts like increases in non-CO2 emissions and other environmental and agriculture goals as well as anticipated monitoring costs, electing cropland management for the first commitment period is not feasible. Cropland management as a mitigation strategy in future commitment periods would require better knowledge.