Carbon Sinks and Climate Change

Carbon Sinks and Climate Change

Forests in the Fight Against Global Warming

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Colin A.G. Hunt

Reforestation and avoiding deforestation are ways of harnessing nature to tackle global warming – the greatest challenge facing humankind. In this book, Colin Hunt deals comprehensively with the present and future role of forests in climate change policy and practice. A review of the workings of carbon markets, both based on the Kyoto Protocol and voluntary participation, provides a base from which to explore forestry’s role. Emphasis is on acknowledging how forests’ idiosyncrasies affect the design of markets for sequestered carbon. Chapters range from the role of forests in providing biofuels and biodiversity, to measuring and valuing their stored carbon.

Chapter 1: The Making of Markets for Carbon and the Potential of Forestry Offsets

Colin A.G. Hunt

Subjects: environment, climate change, ecological economics, environmental geography, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


The atmosphere can be characterized as an unmanaged commons in which pollution by greenhouse gases (GHGs) is unrestricted, and emissions by one party reduce the welfare of all other parties. Because of the cumulative rise of unassimilated concentrations of GHGs over time and the delay in the manifestation of their impact on climate, it is future generations who will pay the heavy price of unconstrained pollution. The need to rein in GHGs is an urgent one, and one that requires deep cuts to global emissions if serious economic and social costs of climate change are to be avoided. The first part of this chapter is devoted to an exploration of the options available for controlling international and national GHGs with a focus on how markets work to lower the costs of compliance with emission targets. The markets for carbon that ensue from cuts are in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) where the main greenhouse gases, listed in Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol (United Nations, 1998), are expressed in terms of their equivalence to CO2 in global warming potential. The second part of the chapter takes a look at the potential role of forestry in the market mechanisms for mitigating climate change. 1.1 EMISSION TAXES One obvious way to control greenhouse emissions globally is to put a tax on emissions of CO2e. The tax would need to be the same per tonne of CO2e across countries and sectors. All emitters facing the tax would reduce their output of gases...

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