Forest Carbon Sequestration under the U.S. Biofuel Energy Policies

This paper analyzes impacts of the U.S. biofuel energy policies on the carbon sequestration by forest products, which is expressed as Harvested Wood Products (HWP) Contribution under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Estimation for HWP Contribution is based on tracking carbon stock stored in wood and paper products in use and in solid-waste disposal sites (SWDS) from domestic consumption, harvests, imports, and exports. For this analysis, we hypothesize four alternative scenarios using the existing and pending U.S. energy policies by requirements for the share of biofuel to total energy consumption, and solve partial equilibrium for the U.S. timber market by 2030 for each scenario. The U.S. Forest Products Module (USFPM), created by USDA Forest Service Lab, operating within the Global Forest Products Model (GFPM) is utilized for projecting productions, supplies, and trade quantities for the U.S. timber market equilibrium. Based on those timber market components, we estimate scenario-specific HWP Contributions under the Production, the Stock Change, and the Atmospheric Approach suggested by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories using WOODCARB II created by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and modified by USDA Forest Service Lab. Lastly, we compare estimated results across alternative scenarios. Results show that HWP Contributions for the baseline scenario in 2009 for all approaches are estimated higher than estimates reported by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2011, (e.g., 22.64 Tg C/ year vs 14.80 Tg C/ year under the Production Approach), which is due to the economic recovery, especially in housing construction, assumed in USFPM/GFPM. Projected HWP Contribution estimates show that the Stock Change Approach, which used to provide the highest estimates before 2009, estimate HWP Contribution lowest after 2009 due to the declining annual net imports. Though fuel wood consumption is projected to be expanded as an alternative scenario requires higher wood fuel share to total energy consumption, the overall impacts on the expansion in other timber products are very modest across scenarios in USFPM/GFPM. Those negligible impacts lead to small differences of HWP Contribution estimates under all approaches across alternative scenarios. This is explained by the points that increasing logging residues are more crucial for expansion in fuel wood projections rather than the expansion of forest sector itself, and that the current HWP Contribution does not include carbon held in fuel wood products by its definition.

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