Working Group on Forest Carbon Accounting in Products

Forest Carbon Counts is focused work with the EPN’s Forests and Climate Project. It is designed to tackle a critical carbon accounting flaw that harvesting trees for products or bio-energy is carbon neutral. This lifecycle inaccuracy, if not corrected, will continue to steer climate and energy policies and business practices in a direction toward overconsumption of forest resources and support solutions that do not genuinely address rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

With more companies and other institutions looking to carbon accounting and life cycle assessment as a tool for evaluating the environmental performance of products, this became a priority for the Environmental Paper Network to address.  Our Network’s collective goal to guide these large volume paper users to improved paper use efficiency, increase recycled content, improve forestry practices and decrease total energy use/unit are impeded by the lack of a complete accounting of the climate impacts of the choice to harvest, use and burn wood.

A working group comprised of members of the Environmental Paper Network has embarked to complete and publish new research for accurately valuing the landscape cost of harvesting trees and mobilize NGOs, academics, and scientists to correct the error and stop its far-reaching effects. The Working Group has consulted with nearly 50 top forest carbon experts to develop a complete a more accurate and complete accounting methodology for forest carbon accounting in products.

In 2012 the Working Group developed a Proposed Methodology for Carbon Accounting in Wood Products that would more accurately capture the climate impacts of forest removals for products. The report can be viewed here:  EPN Carbon Accounting in Wood Products Methodology PHASE 1 FINAL

The group is currently working with several academic researchers to complete an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

The group contributed to the development of new Product Category Rules for Life Cycle Assessment of roundwood and paper products which incorporate updated science and more complete accounting of climate impacts from timber extraction, paper production and wood used for energy.

From 2011 – 2017 the EPN participated in the public process to develop a Biogenic Carbon Accounting Framework at the United State Environmental Protection Agency.  This process that was intended to take three years is ongoing, but is bogged down in disagreements among the researchers.

If you are interested in more information about the Working Group, please contact us.