Harnessing Farms and Forests in the Low-Carbon Economy: How to Create, Measure, and Verify Greenhouse Gas Offsets

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As the United States moves to a low-carbon economy in order to combat global warming, credits for reducing carbon dioxide emissions will increasingly become a commodity that is bought and sold on the open market. Farmers and other landowners can benefit from this new economy by conducting land management practices that help sequester carbon dioxide, creating credits they can sell to industry to “offset” industrial emissions of greenhouse gases.

This guide is the first comprehensive technical publication providing direction to landowners for sequestering carbon and information for traders and others who will need to verify the sequestration. It will provide invaluable direction to farmers, foresters, land managers, consultants, brokers, investors, regulators, and others interested in creating consistent, credible greenhouse gas offsets as a tradable commodity in the United States.

The guide contains a non-technical section detailing methodologies for scoping of the costs and benefits of a proposed project, quantifying offsets of various sorts under a range of situations and conditions, and verifying and registering the offsets. The technical section provides specific information for quantifying, verifying, and regulating offsets from agricultural and forestry practices.

Visit the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions website for audio from the press conference announcing the book.
Read the press release announcing the book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822341680
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University is a nonpartisan institute that engages with decision-makers in government, the private sector, and the nonprofit community to develop innovative proposals that address critical environmental challenges, with offices at Duke University and in Washington, D.C.

Zach Willey is a Senior Economist at Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization that links science, economics, and law to create innovative, equitable, and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems. Willey specializes in developing economic solutions to greenhouse gas emission and natural resource degradation problems in terrestrial ecosystems. Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, is former chief scientist of Environmental Defense and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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Table of Contents

Foreword     vii
Preface     ix
Introduction: The Role of Landowners and Farmers in the New Low-Carbon Economy     3
The Process of Creating Offsets     10
Land-Management Options for Creating Offsets     22
Steps in Determining a Project's Offsets
Step 1: Scoping the Costs and Benefits of a Proposed Project     39
Step 2: Determining Additionality and Baselines     46
Step 3: Quantifying the Carbon Sequestered in Forests     52
Step 4: Quantifying the Carbon Sequestered in Soil     64
Step 5: Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Manure     75
Step 6: Quantifying and Minimizing Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Soil     84
Step 7: Estimating Leakage or Off-Site Emissions Caused by the Project     91
Step 8: Verifying and Registering Offsets     99
Conclusion: Putting These Guidelines into Practice     107
Key Factors to Consider in Developing a Sampling Strategy     111
Quantifying Inadvertent Emissions from Project Activities     115
Using Statistics in Quantifying Offsets     118
Calculating Levelized Costs and Benefits     125
Categorical Additionality and Barrier Tests     128
Using Periodic Transition Rates to CalculateBaselines     131
Typical Carbon Stocks in Forest Pools     136
Protocols for Measuring Carbon in Subplots     139
Using Stocking Surveys to Monitor Forest Projects     143
Determining the Density of Woody Materials     146
Correcting for the Degree of Slope     156
Calculating Carbon Stock and Changes in Carbon Stock     159
Adapting Biomass Equations from One Species to Another     165
Developing New Biomass Equations     166
Using Stand-Level Equations     175
Calculating Changes in Carbon Sequestration When Soil Density Changes     176
Determining Mass-Specific Ratios     179
Calculating Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Manure     181
The Dynamics of Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Soil     184
Market Leakage and Activity Shifting     186
Land-Management Projects and Changes in Demand     187
Addressing Leakage from Forestation Projects     188
Using Regression Analysis to Calculate Elasticity     190
Guidelines for Auditing Greenhouse Gases     191
Verifying and Registering Offsets under the Kyoto Protocol     193
Choosing a Registry     196
Sample Field Protocol: Establishing Plots and Measuring Biomass in a Forestry Project     201
Notes     209
Bibliography     215
Index     223
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    Good book, just beware of verification issues

    An encouraging read which looks at a growing economy. Only the limited information on other rigourous markets such as the UN's CDM is to fault. Forests are also considered a poisoned chalice when it comes to the green economy due to early poor use as carbon offsets.

    Ben, Director, www.clear-offset.com

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