IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Global forest mitigation in climate stabilization analysis

Evaluating the cost-competitiveness of forestry mitigation versus other sector options in achieving climate mitigation goals requires different modelling capabilities. Global integrated assessment and climate economic models are top-down models, generally capable of dynamically representing feedbacks in the economy across sectors and regions and reallocations of inputs, as well as interactions between economic and atmospheric-ocean-terrestrial systems. These models can be used to evaluate long-term climate stabilization scenarios, like achieving a stabilization target of 450 or 650 CO2-eq by 2100 (see Section 3.3.5). In this framework, the competitive mitigation role of forest abatement options, such as afforestation, can be estimated as part of a dynamic portfolio of the least-cost combination of mitigation options from across all sectors of the economy, including energy, transportation, and agriculture.

To date, researchers have used various approaches to represent terrestrial carbon sequestration in integrated assessment models. These approaches include iterating with the land-sector models (e.g., Sohngen and Mendelsohn, 2003), and implementing mitigation response curves generated by a sectoral model (Jakeman and Fisher, 2006). At present, all integrated assessment models include afforestation strategies, but only some consider avoided deforestation, and none explicitly model forest management mitigation options (e.g., harvest timing: Rose et al., 2007). However, the top-down mitigation estimates account for economic feedbacks, as well as for some biophysical feedbacks such as climate and CO2 fertilization effects on forest growth.

The few estimates of global competitive mitigation potential of forestry in climate stabilization in 2030 are given in Table 9.4. Some estimates represent carbon plantation gains only, while others represent net forest carbon stock changes that include plantations as well as deforestation carbon loses induced by bioenergy crops. On-going top-down land-use modelling developments should produce more refined characterization of forestry abatement alternatives and cost-effective mitigation potential in the near future. The results in Table 9.4 suggest a reasonable central estimate of about 700 million tonne CO2 in 2030 from forestry in competition with other sectors for achieving stabilization, significantly less than the regional bottom-up or global sector top-down estimates in this chapter summarized in Table 9.7.

Table 9.4: Global forest cost-effective mitigation potential in 2030 from climate stabilization scenarios, or 450-650 CO2-eq atmospheric concentration targets, produced by top-down global integrated assessment models. Forest options are in competition with other sectoral options to generate least-cost mitigation portfolios for achieving long-run stabilization.

Carbon price in scenario (US$/tCO2-eq) Mitigation potential in 2030 
MtCO2-eq/yr Number of scenario results 
0 - 20 40 - 970 
20 - 50 604 - 790 
50 - 100 nd 
>100 851 

Notes: Jakeman and Fisher (2006) estimated 2030 forest mitigation of 3,059 MtCO2, well above other estimates, but not included due to an inconsistency inflating their forest mitigation estimates for the early 21st century.

nd = no data.

Source: Section 3.3.5; data from Rose et al., 2007.