An attempt to assess the monetary value of carbon absorbed in the Polish forest sector
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Forests and forest management play a vital role in capture and storage of carbon dioxide, which contributes to mitigation of climate change. Forests are not only a natural carbon sink. Proper forest management can enhance biomass production, providing wood to be converted into e.g. construction timber, paper and furniture as well as wood fuels and, as a result, considerably enlarge this carbon sink. Poland, being a party of the Climate Convention and Kyoto Protocol and a member of the EU is obliged to provide yearly reports on carbon emissions and sequestration, including the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector, of which forestry is the leading constituent. Forests, with the sequestration rate at a level of 3.93 t CO2·ha-1 form practically the only important carbon sink in the LULUCF category. Unfortunately the LULUCF sector has not been yet included in the current climate policy framework. The purpose of the study was an attempt to estimate the hypothetical value of carbon stored in forestry, resulting from the reported quantities of the emitted and sequestered carbon. The calculations were based on figures included in the National Inventory Report for Poland, reported yearly to the Secretariat of the Climate Convention. Among the forestry carbon sources/sinks, reported annually, the sequestration resulting from forest management significantly exceeds the net sequestration from afforestation/deforestation activities. Average data from recent years show that forest management is a net CO2 sink, with 12 Mt CO2·y-1 (above the forest management reference level, FMRL), and when combined with the carbon pool change resulting from afforestation/deforestation activities, it can be regarded as a net carbon sink sequestering nearly 15 Mt CO2·y-1. That value, when multiplied by the price of carbon emission allowance (e.g. EUA), could be a source of over 80 mill Euros per year, if used as a commodity on the emissions market. Due to high price volatility of CO2 emission allowances, the calculated profits are hypothetical, and the EU Emissions Trading System does not include forestry. These potential gains can become realistic after the LULUCF sector has been included in the emissions trading system.
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