Canadian Forest Service Publications

Climate change mitigation strategies in the forest sector: biophysical impacts and economic implications in British Columbia, Canada. 2017. Xu, Z.; Smyth, C.E.; Lemprière, T.C.; Rampley, G.J.; Kurz, W. A. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change, pp 1–34

Year: 2017

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 37881

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/s11027-016-9735-7

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Abstract

Managing forests to increase carbon sequestration or reduce carbon emissions and using wood products and bioenergy to store carbon and substitute for other emission-intensive products and fossil fuel energy have been considered effective ways to tackle climate change in many countries and regions. The objective of this study is to examine the climate change mitigation potential of the forest sector by developing and assessing potential mitigation strategies and portfolios with various goals in British Columbia (BC), Canada. From a systems perspective, mitigation potentials of five individual strategies and their combinations were examined with regionally differentiated implementations of changes. We also calculated cost curves for the strategies and explored socio-economic impacts using an input-output model. Our results showed a wide range of mitigation potentials and that both the magnitude and the timing of mitigation varied across strategies. The greatest mitigation potential was achieved by improving the harvest utilization, shifting the commodity mix to longer-lived wood products, and using harvest residues for bioenergy. The highest cumulative mitigation of 421 MtCO2e for BC was estimated when employing the strategy portfolio that maximized domestic mitigation during 2017–2050, and this would contribute 35% of BC’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2050 at less than $100/tCO2e and provide additional socio-economic benefits. This case study demonstrated the application of an integrated systems approach that tracks carbon stock changes and emissions in forest ecosystems, harvested wood products (HWPs), and the avoidance of emissions through the use of HWPs and is therefore applicable to other countries and regions.

Plain Language Summary

Managing forests to increase carbon sequestration or reduce carbon emissions, and using wood products and bioenergy to substitute for other carbon-intensive products and fossil fuels, have been considered effective ways to tackle climate change in many countries and regions. British Columbia’s legislated greenhouse gas emission reduction target is an 80% reduction below the 2007 level by 2050 and there is great interest in the potential of forest-related mitigation to contribute. In this paper, the authors developed several mitigation strategies and portfolios with various goals to examine the mitigation potential of British Columbia’s forest sector, disaggregated to the level of 74 management units. Building on advice from BC government officials, they examined mitigation potential of five strategies and their combinations, with regionally-differentiated implementation of changes in forest management and wood product uses. They also included substitution of carbon-intensive products and fossil fuels by wood products and bioenergy. In addition to the biophysical potential, the authors calculated mitigation costs and developed cost curves to assess the economic potential. Finally, the authors explored the impacts of mitigation strategies on provincial employment, GDP, and government revenue. The paper found significant mitigation potential, and that both the magnitude and the timing of mitigation varied across strategies. Improving the harvest utilization, shifting the commodity mix to longer-lived wood products, and using harvest residues for bioenergy were among the most promising strategies in the province. If the strategy that maximizes domestic mitigation were chosen in each management unit, then forest-related mitigation could contribute 35% of the province’s 2050 emission reduction target (i.e., about 18 MtCO2e), with less than $100/tCO¬2e and additional socio-economic benefits.

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