• Presentation

Mitigation potential and costs of avoided deforestation


Sohngen, B. L., & Beach, R. H. (2007, February). Mitigation potential and costs of avoided deforestation. Presented at Fourth USDA Greenhouse Gas Conference: Positioning Agriculture and Forestry to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change, Baltimore, MD.


Tropical deforestation is a significant contributor to accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Previous estimates of GHG emissions from tropical deforestation have been in the range of 1 to 2 petagrams of carbon (PgC) per year for the 1990s, equivalent to 15% to 30% of global annual GHG emissions from fossil fuels. Currently, forestry activities under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol are limited to afforestation and reforestation on areas that were not forested in 1990, excluding actions to avoid deforestation. However, interest in creating carbon credits for avoided deforestation was renewed after the 11th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP11) decision in late 2005 to explore approaches to reduce emissions from deforestation. Although a number of previous studies have examined the potential for avoided deforestation to play a role in GHG mitigation, few authors have examined the associated costs of achieving different levels of emission reductions across multiple tropical regions. This paper examines the extent of baseline deforestation and the quantity of carbon at stake, practical problems and issues associated with including avoided deforestation, and the economic potential to incorporate reductions in deforestation as an option for mitigating climate change. Using the Global Timber Model, which is a market model that accounts for above- and below-ground vegetative carbon stock, we find that there is a large potential for avoided deforestation to help reduce GHG mitigation costs. Mitigation ranges from an average of about 0.1 PgC per year at $5/metric ton of carbon (tC) up to 1.6 PgC per year at $100/tC.