Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paying to Save Tropical Forests Could Reduce Global Carbon Emissions

25.07.2008
Wealthy nations willing to collectively spend about $1 billion annually could prevent the emission of roughly half a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year for the next 25 years, new research suggests. It would take about that much money to put an end to a tenth of the tropical deforestation in the world, one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, researchers estimate.

It would take about that much money to put an end to a tenth of the tropical deforestation in the world, one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, researchers estimate.

If adopted, this type of program could have potential to reduce global carbon emissions by between 2 and 10 percent.

The calculation is one of several estimates described by a team of scientists and economists this week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The calculations, based on three different forestry and land-use models, provide the best estimates so far of how much it would cost developed nations to participate in a program called “avoided deforestation” to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.

Under such a program, wealthy nations would help achieve reduced emissions globally by paying landowners in developing nations not to cut down wide swaths of forested land to make way for agricultural uses. Tropical deforestation, the cutting and burning of trees to convert land to grow crops and raise livestock, accounts for about a fifth of all human-caused carbon emissions in the world.

The research attaches estimated dollar amounts to each metric ton of carbon that could be saved through avoided deforestation in Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.

Based on these estimates, the overall cost to buy carbon credits would be lower than what developed nations would expect to pay to reduce emissions through regulation of industry, transportation and energy sources, said Brent Sohngen, a study co-author and professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State University.

“Compared to other options, an avoided deforestation program would be relatively cheap and practical for the United States,” said Sohngen, who developed one of three models used to calculate the estimates. “It would save American taxpayers money and provide a huge transfer of funding from one region of the world to another, giving developing countries a larger chunk of the world’s economic pie to use as they see fit.”

The three models used to calculate the estimates are called the Global Timber Model, developed by Sohngen; the Dynamic Integrated Model of Forestry and Alternative Land Use, developed at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria; and the Generalized Comprehensive Mitigation Assessment Process Model, developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

The models employ different economic and biological assumptions to reach their respective deforestation and carbon-emission projections. Each model takes into account changes expected to occur over time, especially incentives for deforestation relating to demand for agricultural land based on changes in population, income and technology.

“The results indicate that substantial emission reductions could be accomplished through 2030, the period we examined,” Sohngen said.

For example, according to the models, carbon credits costing $20 per metric ton would result in average global carbon dioxide emission reductions of between 1.6 billion and 4.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. At higher prices, the emission reductions go up substantially. At $100 per metric ton of carbon, the models predict an avoided deforestation program would yield emission reductions of between 3.1 billion and 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon annually.

Looking at a hypothetical program another way, the researchers used the models to estimate prices based on avoided deforestation goals. For example, the cost to achieve a 10 percent reduction in global deforestation through 2030, resulting in between 0.3 billion and 0.6 billion metric tons of reduced carbon emissions annually, would cost between $2 and $5 per metric ton of carbon credit – or between $0.4 billion and $1.7 billion per year. Achieving a 50 percent reduction in deforestation, and a corresponding 1.5 billion to 2.7 billion metric ton reduction in emissions each year, would cost $10 to $21 per metric ton, or between $17.2 billion and $28 billion per year, according to the model calculations.

By comparison, the United States emits an estimated 6 billion tons of carbon each year.

The researchers also estimated how per-ton carbon prices would translate into land rental prices in tropical regions. Carbon at $2 per ton could translate into rental values of $20 to $35 per hectare per year, and carbon prices of $10 per ton would trigger land rental values of $85 to $252 per hectare annually. A hectare equals the area of 2.5 acres. About 13 million hectares of land per year continue to be lost to deforestation.

“These payment levels could generate substantial financial flows to landowners who reduce deforestation,” Sohngen said. “If this kind of program could stop deforestation, it would provide a bigger source of biodiversity by retaining a larger stock of tropical forest, keep carbon out of the atmosphere, and provide money to people in developing countries to pursue new forms of livelihood that don’t involve cutting down trees.”

The avoided deforestation cost estimates could be used in negotiations toward an updated global program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, similar to the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997 and subject to enforcement in 2005. The United States has not signed that treaty, which has been ratified by 182 parties, including 137 developing countries and 36 developed countries, plus the European Union.

The Kyoto Protocol included avoided deforestation as a potential method of reducing global carbon emissions, but “it just didn’t pick up any steam at that time,” Sohngen said. “There were lots of constraints within the Kyoto treaty about using land-use options to abate carbon emissions. It looks like there is a large effort now to try to relax some of those constraints in order to allow avoided deforestation to be considered as a carbon abatement mechanism.”

In recent years, developing nations, especially Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, have begun pushing for a program that would allow the purchase of carbon credits to preserve native forests.

“Now, there is a huge debate about it, and our paper is just trying to add one economic component to the discussion,” Sohngen said. “If we’re talking about the source of at least 20 percent of the world’s emissions that can be cheaply abated, then why wouldn’t we do it? If we don’t spend the money to offer these countries development assistance, they’re going to continue deforesting, so their emissions are just going to continue.”

Sohngen conducted the analysis with Georg Kindermann, Michael Obersteiner and Ewald Rametsteiner of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis; Jayant Sathaye of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Kenneth Andrasko of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Bernhard Schlamadinger of Joanneum Research in Graz, Austria; Sven Wunder of the Center for International Forestry Research in Belém-PA, Brazil; and Robert Beach of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Emily Caldwell | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>