An equivalence factor between CO2 avoidedemissions and sequestration – description andapplications in forestry

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Abstract

Concern about the issue of permanence andreversibility of the effects of carbon sequestrationhas led to the need to devise accounting methods thatquantify the temporal value of storing carbon that hasbeen actively sequestered or removed from theatmosphere, as compared to carbon stored as a resultof activities taken to avoid emissions. This paperdescribes a method for accounting for the atmosphericeffects of sequestration-based land-use projects inrelation to the duration of carbon storage. Firstly,the time period over which sequestered carbon shouldbe stored in order to counteract the radiative forcingeffect of carbon emissions was calculated, based onthe residence time and decay pattern of atmosphericCO2, its Absolute Global Warming Potential. Thistime period was called the equivalence time, andwas calculated to be approximately 55 years. From thisequivalence time, the effect of storage of 1 tCO2 for 1 year was derived, and found to besimilar to preventing the effect of the emission of0.0182 tCO2. Potential applications of thistonne.year figure, here called the equivalencefactor, are then discussed in relation to theestimation of atmospheric benefits over time ofsequestration-based land use projects.