Forest Carbon Accounting Considerations in U.S. Bioenergy Policy

Let’s take a quick look at one of FPL’s key publications, Forest Carbon Accounting Considerations in U.S. Bioenergy Policy, by¬† Reid Miner, Robert Abt, Jim Bowyer, Marilyn Buford, Robert Malmsheimer, Jay O’Laughlin, Elaine Oneil, Roger Sedjo, and FPL Supervisory Research Forester Kenneth Skog.

Web_Thinned-forest-healthy

This shows a healthy, sustainably managed forest.

A large body of research in the pub focuses on the effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) from using forest bioenergy as a substitute for fossil fuel and wood building products as a substitute for concrete and steel.

Forest bioenergy research on GHG, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), sometimes produces widely varying and occasionally contradictory results. This publication, appearing in the Journal of Forestry, examines research on the effects of GHG on energy derived from forest biomass, including all parts of the tree, living and dead, to allow improved interpretation of the research. The review accounts for biogenic carbon and biogenic CO2 and the potential effects of CO2 on global temperatures.

According to Skog, as long as land remains in forests, long-term carbon mitigation benefits are derived from sustainably managed forests. These forests provide an ongoing output of wood and other biomass to produce long-lived products and bioenergy, displacing GHG-intensive alternatives.

Demand for wood keeps land in forests, provides incentives for expanding forests and improving forest productivity, and supports investments in sustainable forest management that can help offset the forest carbon impacts of increased demand.

Although forest bioenergy systems sometimes produce near-term increases in CO2, they typically result in lower cumulative CO2 emissions over time.

When assessed using a framework that is consistent with that used for other GHGs and that reflects the effects of market-induced investments and forest growth dynamics, the types of forest-derived biomass likely to be used for energy in the United States typically have low (sometimes less than zero) warming impacts.

Skog has long been working on climate change research, having been one of 13 Forest Service researchers granted a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for these efforts. Climate change is a priority area of research for the Forest Service.