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Carbon Capture and Storage in Forests
1 Introduction: The Role of Forestry in Climate ChangeMitigation
The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on ClimateChange
was adopted in 1997 and became legally binding (on its 128 Parties) in2005. The Parties have committed themselves to actions directed towards sta-bilising atmospheric Greenhouse Gas (GHG) concentrations, including thoseof carbon dioxide (CO
). This is to be achieved by reducing emissions(reduction of sources) and removing GHG from the atmosphere (enhancementof sinks), including by carbon capture and storage (CCS) in forests. (Note: theterm ‘carbon sequestration’ used elsewhere in this chapter may be considered asequivalent to both capture and storage of carbon, but, for simplicity,‘sequestration’ usually is used as a substitute for ‘storage’). Article 3.3 of theKyoto Protocol (KP) states that biological carbon sinks enhanced throughafforestation, reforestation and the decreasing of deforestation rates since 1990,should be utilised for meeting the commitments of the countries during thestipulated period.
is an expansion of forest on land which morethan 50 years ago contained forests but has since been converted to other use.
is a restoration of degraded or recently (20–50 years ago)deforested land.
In this chapter, we do not make any distinction between theseterms. Since the Conference of the Parties,
afforestation, reforestation, forestmanagement and soil carbon have become eligible climate policy measures.In Europe, aid for woodland development is provided by the programmes of Member States and by the EU initiative that focuses mainly on marginalagricultural land, 1 Mha of which was afforested in 1994–1999 (ref. 3). Thetotal area of EU forests (113 Mha) has expanded by 3%, with 1Mha havingbeen afforested between 1994 and 1999 (ref. 4). If this trend continues, the
Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, 29Carbon Capture: Sequestration and StorageEdited by R.E. Hester and R.M. Harrison
Royal Society of Chemistry 2010Published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, www.rsc.org
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carbon sequestration potential of 3.84MtCyr
will be achievable during thefirst commitment period. Taking into account 25 Member States, a technicalsequestration potential of 34MtCyr
could be reached in the long-run.
However, only a fraction of this amount could be accounted for, under thecurrent rules, because most of this carbon uptake is not ‘‘additional’withreference to the 1990 baseline. Carbon sequestration forestry activities aresupported by afforestation schemes and rural development regulations. Theprincipal forest policy initiatives that increase CCS are recognised as main-taining and enlarging carbon pools by improving existing forests through theirprotection and sustainable management; expanding the forest area throughafforestation (largely with species adapted to local conditions); replacing fossilfuels with fuel wood from sustainable managed forests; and replacing high-energy products with industrial wood products.
Along with afforestation schemes, the European Commission (EC) adoptedthe White Paper that identifies the need to raise energy production fromrenewable sources from 6% in 1998 to 12% by 2010 (ref. 7), including theincreasing use of woody biomass in energy production. Successful imple-mentation of this policy contributes to carbon sinks provided by standingforests, and adds to the reduction of CO
concentrations in the atmospherefrom using wood instead of fossil fuels, after timber is harvested. In Europe, thepotential to sequester carbon from short rotation timber plantations (SRTP)and from substitution of biomass for fossil fuel, is in the range of 4.5–9MtCper year.
Depending on SRTP development, even higher carbon savings couldbe achieved in the future, though this would require proper incentives and linksbetween the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and climate policy measures,particularly concerning changes on set-aside and marginal lands.
The last few years have seen an upsurge in the number of scientific papersand reports addressing different aspects of carbon sequestration through for-estry-based activities, both internationally and in the UK. Various aspects of using forests to mitigate climate change have been discussed in the literature forCanada, Finland, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, USA, and other coun-tries.
Terrestrial carbon sink is on the agenda of international conferences,including the Conferences of Parties.Carbon sequestration through afforestation is commonly considered as:cheap (cost efficient); clean (it may concurrently provide other ecosystem ser-vices); proven (many countries have the legacy of tree-growing); effective in theshort-term, providing almost immediate effect after the tree-planting; and as aless resource and energy consuming climate policy measure. It can be incor-porated in multi-functional forest use to simultaneously enlarge timber pro-duction and bring a variety of other benefits, and can provide economicincentives for sustainable forest management.
The Stern Review
examined the socio-economic impacts of climate change.The Carbon Trust
published recommendations on how best to deliver carbonemission reductions and different bio-energy options for the UK. A report byAEA Technology
analysed the potential of biomass for renewable heat. Morespecific documents have assessed the relevance of biomass options in regional
Maria Nijnik
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the importance of climate policies in setting business strategies,and manifold implications of policy decisions and their effects on the way thatbusinesses operate.
The most recent publications highlight that social andspatial issues are important in determining the range of land types which arelikely to become available for new woodland development; that the main dif-ficulties associated with the use of wood for energy have been policy-orientedand socio-economic, and technological, rather than fuel-related; and thatcomparative indicators of the cost-effectiveness of alternative climate changemitigation strategies in forestry are needed.
Surprisingly, despite the size of their forests and large areas of marginalagricultural land, there remains only limited room for forest sector policies tosequester carbon in the major wood-producing countries, such as Canada,Finland, Sweden or Russia.
In Canada, for example, there is a limit to theamount of carbon offset credits that can be claimed on existing forestland(largely, publicly owned), and the focus is now shifting to afforestation of agricultural land, where the role of private landowners is important and thepotential of afforestation is around 1Mha.
The analysis of the role and place of forestry to mitigate climate change is morerelevant to countries which have a substantial potential for forestry develop-ment.
Therefore, carbon inventory and monitoring, cost-effectiveness of afforestation and forest management, social acceptability of various carbonsequestration options, existing challenges and opportunities of woodland devel-opment on high carbon soils, using wood in renewable energy projects, and inwood products, are highly relevant topics, for instance in Scotland. The reports bythe Sustainable Development Commission
and the Fraser of Allander Insti-tute
have provided information on the potential of the wood fuel market and oncompetitiveness of different wood fuel scenarios. A review addressing biomassproduction and consumption in Scotland has been published by SEERAD.
The reports provide a broad picture concerning technological aspects, GHGlife-cycle emissions, air pollution impacts of biomass production and con-sumption. However, an overall assessment of the role of forests in climatic andatmospheric changes is needed to develop a better understanding and, whereappropriate, to improve, simplify and extend the manner in which this role istaken into account. Through the analysis of biogeochemical processes involved,and by assessing the opportunities for forestry to sequester and store carbon, itbecomes possible to suggest climate policies and measures at various spatiallevels and to advise on their proper sequencing in time. Institutional and eco-nomic aspects of CCS in forests are areas that merit special attention.It is anticipated that forestry-based activities could help reduce CO
con-centrations in the atmosphere by increasing biotic carbon storage, decreasingemissions and producing biomass as a substitute for fossil fuels. Reducing ratesof deforestation, increasing forest regeneration, agroforestry, improving forestand land-use management, and growing energy crops are activities that aresupposed to assist countries in coping with the changing climate.
In practice,however, existing opportunities are only partially used, as this chapter willdiscuss further.
Carbon Capture and Storage in Forests
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