The 100-Year Method for Forecasting Carbon Sequestration in Forest Products in Use

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Abstract

In recent years, much attention has been focused on carbon accounting for harvested wood products in national greenhouse gas inventories. The methods used for national accounting, however, are not suited to corporate or value chain accounting. This is largely due to the practical difficulties that companies face in assembling the historical production data and other information required by national accounting methods. In addition, national accounting methods produce results that are heavily influenced by historical data and past practices. As a result, these methods provide little insight into opportunities for improvement.

In this paper, options are considered for corporate and value chain accounting of carbon in forest products in use. One method is identified that avoids many of the difficulties associated with national accounting methods. The method estimates the amount of carbon in products expected to remain in use for at least 100 years and, therefore, the method is called the 100-year method.

A review of forest product time-in-use distributions being used in several countries to develop national carbon inventories reveals that many of them were not designed to produce realistic estimates of the amount of product remaining in use for 100 years. U.S. housing data are used to demonstrate, however, that the time-in-use information used to develop the U.S. national inventory can be used in the 100-year method without over estimating 100-year carbon sequestration in U.S. housing.