A new research disclosed that the world’s wood products including all the paper, furniture and more offset just 1 percent of annual global carbon emissions by locking away carbon in woody forms.
An analysis across 180 countries found that global wood products offset 335 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2015, 71 million tons of which were unaccounted. Wood product carbon sequestration could rise more than 100 million tons by 2030, depending on the level of global economic growth.
The results provide countries with the first consistent look at how their timber industries could offset their carbon emissions as nations search for ways to keep climate change manageable by severely curbing emissions.
Johnston worked with Radeloff to develop a consistent, international analysis of the carbon storage potential of these products, which countries must now account for under the global Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
They used data on lumber harvests and wood product production from 1961 to 2015, the most recent year available, from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
The researchers modeled future carbon sequestration in wood products using five broad models of possible economic and population growth, the two factors that most affect demand for these products.
Although the production of wood products in 2015 offset less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions, the proportion was much higher for a handful of countries with large timber industries.
But for most countries, including the U.S., wood products mitigated a much smaller fraction of overall emissions in 2015, and this proportion is not expected to increase significantly through 2065, the researchers found.
The current study offers a chance to assess current obligations and help countries predict future emissions. The results may also inform the next round of emissions targets and negotiations, the researchers say.