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Carbon sequestration: conflicts and benefits. Harper Piarn
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Carbon sequestration: conflicts and benefits. Harper Piarn


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A presentation at the WCCA 2011 event in Brisbane.

A presentation at the WCCA 2011 event in Brisbane.

Published in: Education, Technology

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  • 1. Alcoa Chair in Sustainable Water Management Richard J. Harper Carbon sequestration: conflicts and benefits
  • 2. Overview
    • Land based carbon mitigation can contribute to restoring the carbon balance
    • This includes sequestration of carbon in plants and soils, replacement via bioenergy
    • Co-benefits - Large scale carbon investment could have a significant impact on land degradation, water, production, biodiversity
    • Competition – Food vs fuel, trees vs water
    • Broader context - multiple values from land (food, water, fibre, biodiversity, habitation)
  • 3. Land-use emissions *Source: Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (2006) Activity 2006 emission (%)* Aust. Kyoto Accts Annex A Agriculture emissions (methane, nitrous oxide) 16 yes Art. 3.3 Afforestation/reforestation -4 yes Deforestation 11 yes Art. 3.4: Cropland management 0 no Grazing land management Revegetation Forest management
  • 4. Bioenergy
    • Different approach: replacement of fossil fuels
    • Fermentation
      • Ethanol from grain
    • Direct combustion
      • Forestry wastes
      • Purpose grown energy crops
    • Second generation – transport fuels
      • “ lignocellulosics” and other processes
  • 5. Article 3.3: Types of reforestation
  • 6. Afforestation/reforestation: discussion points
    • Reasonable certainty - Growth rates known for many species and situations
    • Timber and fibre production; replacement of energy intensive products (e.g. steel)
    • Environmental co-benefits (water quality, biodiversity); funding mechanism for land-conservation at scale, translocation of natural species with climate change
    • Competition between agricultural land use and carbon mitigation (“food vs fuel”)
    • Competition for water
  • 7. Deforestation: discussion points
    • Major source of global emissions
    • Protection of forests will provide biodiversity, water quality benefits
    • Conversion of land to agriculture – where is future food production going to come from?
    • Economic development and equity: how can forests be protected without penalizing local communities?
  • 8. Article 3.4: additional activities Cropland management Grazing land management Revegetation Forest management
  • 9. Article 3.4 additional activities
    • Based on small increments of carbon over large areas
    • Often uncertainty in estimates; difficulties in measurement
    • Risk of achieving net emissions, rather than net sequestration e.g. drought, erosion, fire
    • Co-benefits (soil C, production, rangeland restoration etc)
    Source: CPRS Green Paper, p. 121 (2008)
  • 10. Conclusions…
    • There are a range of carbon mitigation options within the land-use sector
    • Carbon investment will provide a new source of capital; potential for large-scale change
    • Range of benefits and disbenefits from large-scale land-use change
    • Consider all costs and benefits through several lenses – economic, energy, carbon, food and water security, biodiversity and social
    • Challenge is to design new land-use systems that capture carbon investment and optimise these multiple factors