Have product substitution carbon benefits been overestimated? A sensitivity analysis of key assumptions

Year: 
2019
Publications Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Number: 
5098
Citation: 

Harmon, Mark E. 2019. Have product substitution carbon benefits been overestimated? A sensitivity analysis of key assumptions. Environmental Research Letters. 14(6): 1-8. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab1e95

Abstract: 

Substitution of wood for more fossil carbon intensive building materials has been projected to result in major climate mitigation benefits often exceeding those of the forests themselves. A reexamination of the fundamental assumptions underlying these projections indicates long-term mitigation benefits related to product substitution may have been overestimated 2- to 100-fold. This suggests that while product substitution has limited climate mitigation benefits, to be effective the value and duration of the fossil carbon displacement, the longevity of buildings, and the nature of the forest supplying building materials must be considered.