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Biological Carbon Sequestration and Carbon Trading Re-visited


  • G. Cornelis van Kooten


Under Kyoto, biological activities that sequester carbon can be used to create CO2 offset credits that could obviate the need for lifestyle-changing reductions in fossil fuel use. Credits are earned by storing carbon in terrestrial ecosystems and wood products, although CO2 emissions are also mitigated by delaying deforestation, which accounts for one-quarter of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. However, non-permanent carbon offsets from biological activities are difficult to compare with each other and with emissions reduction because they differ in how long they prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere. This is the duration problem; it results in uncertainty and makes it difficult to determine the legitimacy of biological activities in mitigating climate change. While there is not doubt that biological sink activities help mitigate climate change and should not be neglected, in this paper we demonstrate that these activities cannot be included in carbon trading schemes.

Suggested Citation

  • G. Cornelis van Kooten, 2008. "Biological Carbon Sequestration and Carbon Trading Re-visited," Working Papers 2008-04, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:rep:wpaper:2008-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Susan Subak, 2003. "Replacing carbon lost from forests: an assessment of insurance, reserves, and expiring credits," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 107-122, June.
    2. van Kooten, G. Cornelis & Sohngen, Brent, 2007. "Economics of Forest Ecosystem Carbon Sinks: A Review," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 1(3), pages 237-269, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marshall, Liz & Kelly, Alexia, 2010. "The Time Value of Carbon and Carbon Storage: Clarifying the terms and the policy implications of the debate," MPRA Paper 27326, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. G. Cornelis van Kooten, 2013. "Economic analysis of feed-in tariffs for generating electricity from renewable energy sources," Chapters,in: Handbook on Energy and Climate Change, chapter 9, pages 224-253 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Gren, Ing-Marie & Zeleke, Abenezer Aklilu, 2016. "Policy design for forest carbon sequestration: A review of the literature," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 128-136.
    4. G. Cornelis van Kooten & Craig Johnston & Zhen Xu, 2012. "Economics of Forest Carbon Sequestration," Working Papers 2012-04, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.

    More about this item


    carbon offset credits from biological activities; climate change; duration of carbon sinks;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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