Tasmania: study about carbon stored in forests

The island of Tasmania (240km offshore Australia) has conducted a study of the amount of carbon stored in the forest estates owned by the government.

The study was commissioned by the Tasmanian government, through the Tasmanian Climate Change Office, and conducted by CO2 Group Limited, an Australian company.

It covered over 3m hectares and 95 differnet forest types.

It looked at how land use practises and changing forest management affects carbon stocks, and the level of carbon abatement which arises from the changes.

It also assessed the commercial value of the carbon storage levels. An analysis was provided of opportunities to monetise carbon sequestration and avoided emissions under various domestic and international carbon trading programs.

The study found that current carbon stocks in Tasmania’s forests contain around three to four billion tonnes of carbon, and under a variety of forest management and land use scenarios it may be possible to achieve greenhouse gas abatement worth tens of millions of dollars in the future.

The study concluded that the development and growth in the carbon markets provides interesting prospects for commercial carbon forest projects in Tasmania.

“The comprehensive study provides a complete carbon accounting system that can be used for complex and large scale carbon accounting for forest systems now and in the future,” says Andrew Grant, CEO of CO2 Group.

“This is the first carbon study of its kind undertaken in Australia.”

Australia University study: countries carbon policy and energy prices

A study by Australian National University has found some trends into why certain countries are keener than others on an international carbon price.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, countries which are more carbon emissions intensive, and typically with low energy prices, do not like the idea of a common international carbon price, although these countries often have the cheapest marginal cost of reducing carbon emissions.

But if these countries had to cut emissions to the point where the marginal cost of cutting further was the same as the carbon price, they would pay more, because of the bigger gap between its low initial marginal cost and any common international price.

“A common global carbon price results in the EU having lower total costs as a percentage of GDP than the other more emissions-intensive regions,” researchers found.

However if countries set a common target for emissions intensity (or emissions per unit of GDP), China and India would have the lowest total costs because their emissions intensity is currently very low.

“This helps to explain why different countries favour different climate policies, as, for example, shown by the different types of emission pledges made by key countries after the 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen,” researchers said.

Research was by Dr Jack Pezzey from the Fenner School of Environment and Society in the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, and Professor David Stern and Mr Ross Lambie, both from the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Press release

UK government report “Low Carbon Growth Links With China”

The UK Government has published a report today called “Low Carbon Growth Links with China”, looking at ways that the UK government can work together with China to find out ways to rduce carbon emissions.

The UK government believes that Britain can help China on getting emissions data from the transportation sector.

“The Chinese government has been working on these systems [to provide CO2 data] in preparation for its new Five Year Plan (FYP) goals and there are demands for better systems coming not just from the central government officials
charged with monitoring local performance, but from the localities that want to ensure
they get credit for the changes they make,” the report states.

“Professor [Corinne] Le Quéré reported a discussion with the Chinese Ministry of Transportation, which had explained that it did not yet have the necessary skills to account for the emissions from transportation accurately in
intermediate-sized cities. She believed that this expertise was available in the UK and could
be transferred to China.”

China is planning to launch pilot emissions trading schemes in seven areas before 2013 and a unified national ETS in 2015, the report states.

“Although China has considerable experience as the world’s largest supplier of carbon offsets under the UN Clean Development Mechanism and has set up several environmental exchanges that deal in carbon, so far it has little experience of cap-and trade.”

“UK experts have a great deal of experience in designing an effective scheme. Baroness Worthington and George Yu highlighted the UK’s experience in designing the regulatory and legal framework necessary to support emissions trading, as well as the IT systems that can underpin it,” the report states.

“China is the world’s largest source of CO2 emissions and also its largest potential market for UK low-carbon goods and services,” said a spokesperson for DECC, the UK Government Department of Energy and Climate Change.

“China deserves – and is receiving – our attention as we seek global agreement to additional GHG emissions reductions and develop new markets for UK companies.”

“The Select Committee’s report highlights a number of strengths in the government’s low-carbon links with China; it also makes some constructive suggestions for how this collaboration could be developed.”

The report follows a visit by UK government ministers to China.

NASA research – Beijing carbon monoxide levels dropped during 2008 Olympics

Research funded by the North American Space Agency (NASA) has shown that carbon monoxide levels in the Beijing area dropped substantially between 2007 and 2008, due to traffic restrictions imposed because of the 2008 summer Olympics.

The research was conducted by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) of Boulder Colorado, using data measured by satellite.

Data from the NCAR/University of Toronto Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite were used to obtain the carbon monoxide estimates utilized to infer the carbon dioxide emissions.

Researchers inferred the levels of carbon dioxide emissions from the carbon monoxide emissions, and calculated that the CO2 emissions also dropped by between 24,000 and 96,000 metric tons during the event.

The researchers estimated that this represents over 0.25 per cent of the global emissions cut required to stop worldwide temperature rise of over 2 degrees C by the end of the century (provided the emissions cut was continuous).

“The Beijing Olympics allowed us to actually measure what happens when people drive much less, and it turns out that it makes quite a substantial difference to our climate,” says NCAR scientist Helen Worden, the lead author.

“People may think their choice of how to commute to work doesn’t make a difference, whether driving their cars or riding their bikes. But on a large scale, it really does.”

The same study cannot be done for the London Olympics, researchers said, due to cloud conditions in London (editor’s note: actually there isn’t much cloud but traffic here is the same as usual).

 Press release

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US energy related CO2 9.1 per cent less than 2007

US carbon dioxide emissions related to energy use are 9.1 per cent less than they were in 2007, says the US Institute for Energy Research, using data provided by the US Energy Information Administration.

The Institute attributes this to the economic climate and high oil prices reducing energy demand, and low natural gas prices (a result of the gas glut from fracking) has led to a switch from coal to gas for electricity generation.

There has also been an increase in renewable energy. Renewable generation was 21.7 percent higher in 2011 than in 2010.

The U.S. economy grew by 1.7 percent in 2011 and overall energy usage declined 0.5 per cent.

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