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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: February 2013

17 - Opportunities and Challenges for Offsetting Greenhouse Gas Emissions with Forests

Summary

Introduction

A strong consensus is building on the need to slow the rate of climate change. Emissions must be reduced, and where emission reductions are not financially feasible, mechanisms need to be in place to allow investment in reductions in neighboring areas, neighboring countries, and across the Earth. Forests have a large potential role to play in this system, and the environmental, social, and economic benefits of investing in forests are high. However, challenges exist if we are to maximize the potential of forests to affect climate change.

What Are Offsets?

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations typically place a cap on permitted emissions. It is unrealistic to expect industries and companies to immediately and drastically decrease GHG emissions. As a result, a system exists that allows entities that cannot sufficiently reduce their own emissions to invest elsewhere to stimulate emission reductions or increases in sequestration. The financial instrument is typically known as an offset and is measured by Mg carbon dioxide (CO2), or a carbon dioxide equivalent for non-CO2 GHGs (Mg CO2e), which have varying potentials to cause global warming.

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