Planting more trees, afforestation, and preserving forests are considered critical solutions to absorb C02 emissions and prevent climate change along with other environmental and economic benefits.
However, the cost afforestation and avoiding deforestation to hit the emissions targets are increasing according to a group of researchers from North Carolina State University and Ohio State University.
Their analysis shows that by 2055 it will cost as much as $393 billion per year to pay landowners to plant and preserve enough trees to achieve 10 per cent of total emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Around the world, the forestry sector, particularly in the tropics, presents the highest potential for climate mitigation that could hit the global emissions reduction targets. However, the economic costs of preserving forests, preventing harvest and deforestation, and planting more trees are increasing.
Researchers have used a price model called Global Timber Model to estimate the costs of preserving trees in both public and privately owned lands used to harvest for pulp and paper products.
Using the model shows that it will cost $2 billion annually to prevent 0.6 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2055 and $393 billion annually to capture six gigatons of CO2 emissions.
The study highlights the importance of avoiding deforestation and using afforestation and reforestation to prevent climate change. The research shows that reducing deforestation will prevent up to 1.8 gigatons of CO2 emissions while afforestation and reforestation will sequester up to 2.6 gigatons by 2055.
Majority of these emissions reductions will happen in the tropics. The study estimates up to 54% of total global emissions can be obtained from avoided deforestation in the tropics by 2055. Between 14 to 38% will occur in Sub Saharan Africa, 10 to 26% in South America, and 9 to 14% in Southeast Asia.
Thus, temperate and boreal regions contribute between 15 to 22% of total mitigation by 2035 and increase to 18 to 28% in 2055.
The study shows that economically efficient forest carbon sequestration pathways can be driven by expectations of future mitigation policies and incentives structures.
Thus increases in carbon prices and government investment will incentivize more climate mitigation from the forest sector and affirms the critical role that forests plays in global climate change mitigation.
To read the entire study, click the link below:
Austin, K.G., Baker, J.S., Sohngen, B.L. et al. The economic costs of planting, preserving, and managing the world’s forests to mitigate climate change. Nat Commun 11, 5946 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19578-z