Ecological carbon sequestration via wood burial and storage: A strategy for climate mitigation and adaptation
The urgency of the climate problem is prompting serious
policies that will likely transform the role of forestry and agriculture in
climate mitigation and adaptation. A novel yet intuitive concept has emerged
recently for carbon sequestration by wood burial and storage (WBS), in which
forests are managed to optimal productivity and selected coarse woody materials
are harvested, then buried in trenches or stowed away in above-ground piles or
shelters to prevent decomposition. The stored wood is also a carbon/energy bank
that can be a biomass/bioenergy reserve should future biofuel technologies
become practical. Initial estimate suggests a global potential of 1-5 GtC per
year, and a
A workshop was held September 9-10 at the Heinz Center, Washington DC. The goal of the workshop was to assess critically the carbon sequestration potential of WBS, to identify the real-world opportunities in the US forestry and internationally, in particular in reducing tropical deforestation by providing a forest management strategy that provides livelihood for local populations, and how it can complement Reduced Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD; a major effort in current global climate agreement as well as legislation in the US Congress) in key aspects such as permanence, leakage, verifiability and long-term sustainability. Strategies were explored that would minimize its drawbacks and maximize benefits.
2．Workshop participants and agenda
List of participants:
Anthony King (DOE/ORNL)
Ning Zeng (UMD)
Steve Smith, Tris West, Ben Bond-Lamberty (DOE/PNNL)
Ben Zaitchik (Johns
Dalia Abbas (MSU)
Roger Sedjo (Resources for the Future)
Steve Hamburg, Ruben Lubowski, Alexander Golub (Environment Defense Fund)
Matt Pearson (Morgan-Stanley)
Neil Sampson (Vision Forestry)
Ian Noble (World Bank)
Bryan Bloomer (EPA)
Ken Mooney (NOAA)
9:00 Opening Remarks (King)
9:15 Background and history of
climate mitigation, in particular, carbon sequestration and carbon management
9:45 Introduction to WBS (Zeng)
10:45 Practical considerations for WBS (King)
11:15 Implications for climate change policy (Zaitchik)
11:45 Cost of operation (Abbas)
12:00 Economics (West)
12:30 Lunch Break
2:00 Whole group discussion
3:30 Breakout discussion
8:30 Report from the breakout session
10:30 Discussion: How to move forward?
Possible papers: identify topics and lead author(s)
Research priorities and funding opportunities
12:00 End of meeting
3．WHS workshop notes by Ben B-L
9:30 Steve Hamburg
Try and frame large set of questions, provocatively
There's chaos in policy community re climate mitigation & fixed C
We can store it; use it; dump it; leave it; combust it; change NPP rates
Any conversation here has to deal w/ all of these and interactions
Societal goals: energy; climate; ecosystem and economic sustainability
Policy options: maximize one of these? optimize several? build on knowledge
Public policies are not harmonized -> chaos
Waste is one of biggest challenges: what to do with it?
Need to think in terms of net rad. forcing & be explicit re assumptions
Economics have to be considered - will mediate among different uses
Discussion: economics and changing C price important
Analytics have to be relevant to the policy!
10:00 Ning Zeng
Summary of woody biomass storage
back-of-envelope sequestration numbers, potential for siphoning off C
SH: there's a conceptual problem; can't take only dead wood, won't work
Lots of questioning re 10 GtC & other numbers - realistic?
...presentation to be finished in the PM
11:15 Ben Zaitchik
WBS could in theory fulfill 10-20% of CO2 reduction necessary by 2050
Policy considerations and problems:
Domestic - cost; threats to extractive industries; upfront investment
Meeting targets of (e.g.) Waxman-Markey
Comprehensive climate agreement (international) is a long way off
But forestry, REDD, etc., progress still possible; obsess w/ targets
Deforestation and forest degradation: 20% of emissions globally
SH: comparisons are good, but what's the point? compared to what?
SJS: WBS has many issues similar to C sequestration in soils
(esp. permanence; tough to 'credit')
11:50 Tony King
Practical considerations of WBS: price (economics), policy, preferences
How wood is used has implications for GHGs, climate change, ecology, society, economics, etc.
Finite land is big, big consideration: increasing population already using most of arable land
Bottom-up (practical) assessment suggests current wood sequestration via harvest of 0.1-0.2 PgC/yr
SH: doubling product use of wood would, via energy offsets, be feasible and could approach a Socolow wedge
TK: WBS not a silver bullet but has at least some potential, particularly if wood going into products
12:40 Dalia Abbas
WBS cost of operations
Operations costs incurred at site, transport, road, wood yard
Differences of whole-tree and stem harvest; equipment; etc.
Cost breakdown of SNF thinning operation
Alternatives to WBS: conventional trts; land uses; reduce management costs; wood uses; equipment uses; C storage methods; biodiversity considerations; social/cultural considerations; other management objectives
13:45 Tris West
Economics of WBS: not an economist and not a forester!
Drivers: competing uses; perceived risks; public support
Issues for consideration: is offsetting better than storage? Has full C accounting been done? How will WBS 'shock' the wood products industry and effect indirect LUC? Will the public support this?
Models - including GCAM
Impacts on hydrological cycle?
What are dealbreakers, if any, of WBS?
14:45 Ning Zeng (cont.)
Potential WBS offsets as a % of emissions
Implementation: how to create "carbon/energy bank"
Trench digging; piling/shelter building followed by long-term maintenance
Examples (coffin, landfills) of low-decomposition situations
Ian Noble: economics not impossible, but very difficult