Forests and Climate Change Mitigation: The Role of Markets
An in-depth conversation on the important role forests—and the forest products sector—could play in climate change mitigation
Earth’s carbon is stored in reservoirs, such as the atmosphere, the ocean, sediments, and trees. In the United States, forests store the equivalent of 52 years’ worth of US carbon emissions . This reservoir is expanding by about 0.5 percent per year; however, net growth is expected to decline over the next 30 years, primarily due to land use changes and forests aging. In order to mitigate this decline and expand carbon storage in forests, the Obama-era Mid-century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization proposed a set of policy options, including afforestation (creating new forests), avoided deforestation, and forest management strategies. Forests are also at the root of House Republican leaders’ push to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Last month, they unveiled plans for a series of climate bills, among which is a proposal to grow more trees “for the purpose of sequestering carbon.”
On February 11, 2020, Resources for the Future (RFF) hosted an in-depth conversation on the important role forests can play in climate change mitigation. A healthy forest products sector is critical to achieving this goal, because it can encourage the retention and management of forests. This RFF Live event began with a short background presentation on forest management and the wide range of forest products, followed by a moderated panel discussion with representatives from the forest industry and experts in forest science and policy.
- Janaki R.R. Alavalapati, Auburn University
- Robert Bonnie, Resources for the Future, Duke University
- Kate Gatto, National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO)
- David Wear, Resources for the Future
- Moderator: Ann M. Bartuska, Resources for the Future
Additional Event Resources
- Calculated based on information from "Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2017" by the US Environmental Protection Agency and "The US forest carbon accounting framework: stocks and stock change, 1990–2016" by Woodall et al.
Ann M. Bartuska
Senior Advisor, Resources for the Future
Ann M. Bartuska is a senior advisor at RFF. Her research focuses on natural resources and forestry, especially a consideration of natural climate solutions through forests and agricultural lands.
Robert Bonnie is a Senior Advisor at RFF and Research Scholar at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, working on conservation and environmental issues in rural America.
Press Release — Oct 19, 2023
Old Forests Store More Carbon than Young Ones—and That Matters for US Climate Goals
A new paper shows that because mature forests store substantially more carbon than young forests, avoiding losses of existing forests provides more carbon storage benefits than adding new forests.
Working Paper — Oct 19, 2023
Land-Use Change, No-Net-Loss Policies, and Effects on Carbon Dioxide Removals
In this working paper, RFF researchers employ the CALM model to evaluate how alternative land-use changes affect projections for land-based carbon dioxide removal in the United States.
RFF Live — Jul 25, 2023
Changing Climate, Changing Forests: Exploring the US Forest Service’s 2020 RPA Assessment
On Tuesday, July 25, RFF and the USDA Forest Service unpacked the findings from the 2020 RPA Assessment and discussed the implications of our changing forest resources.