US forest sector greenhouse mitigation potential and implications for nationally determined contributions

By Christina Van Winkle, Justin Baker, Daniel Lapidus, Sara Bushey Ohrel, John Steller, Gregory Latta, Dileep Birur

Countries globally are committing to achieve future greenhouse gas emissions reductions to address our changing climate, as outlined in the Paris Agreement from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties. These commitments, called nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are based on projected anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions levels across all sectors of the economy, including land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF) activities. Projecting LULUCF emissions is uniquely challenging, and the uncertainty of future LULUCF emissions could require additional mitigation efforts in the land use sectors to reduce the risk of NDC noncompliance. The objectives of this paper are to provide critical information on what forest sector mitigation activities are currently underway in the United States on private lands, review recent literature estimates of the mitigation potential from these activities (and associated economic costs), identify gaps in the literature where additional analytical work is needed, and provide recommendations for targeted mitigation strategies should US emissions approach or exceed targeted post-2020 NDC levels.


Van Winkle, C., Baker, J., Lapidus, D., Ohrel, S. B., Steller, J., Latta, G., & Birur, D. (2017). US forest sector greenhouse mitigation potential and implications for nationally determined contributions. (RTI Press Publication No. OP-0033-1705). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Christina Van WinkleChristina Van Winkle, MEM, previously at RTI International

Justin BakerJustin S. Baker, PhD, RTI International

Daniel LapidusDaniel Lapidus, MA, is a senior economist and policy analyst in RTI’s Environmental, Technology and Energy Economics group.

Sara Bushey OhrelSara Ohrel, MEM, Environmental Protection Agency

John StellerJohn Steller, MS, Environmental Protection Agency

Gregory LattaGregory Latta, PhD, University of Idaho

Dileep BirurDileep Birur, PhD, previously at RTI International

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