Estimating the Cost of Carbon Sequestration in Global Forests

EPA Grant Number: R826616
Title: Estimating the Cost of Carbon Sequestration in Global Forests
Investigators: Sohngen, Brent , Mendelsohn, Robert O. , Sedjo, Roger
Institution: The Ohio State University
Current Institution: The Ohio State University , Resources for the Future , Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: September 1, 1998 through August 31, 2000
Project Amount: $87,401
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


Forest management is often considered as an option for reducing net human carbon emissions and helping to avert global warming. While previous studies have considered regional forest programs, forest policies must be large in scale to have any real impact on reducing net carbon emissions. We maintain that the estimates of the costs of regional programs cannot be summed to determine global costs because there are system-wide, dynamic effects that have not been considered. This project will explore the following question: What is the cost of storing carbon in forests with large-scale, global carbon sequestration programs? The specific objectives of the proposal are to (1) Develop a model of the marginal cost of carbon sequestration in forests; (2) Develop a global carbon storage database for forested Biomes; (3) Develop alternative strategies for carbon sequestration in forests and estimate costs.


This project will develop methods for estimating the welfare impacts of alternative forestry strategies for mitigating carbon dioxide emissions. An empirical model will be built based on an existing dynamic economic model of global timber markets to capture welfare effects. Additional data will be collected on land use, tree planting, and forest maintenance costs, as well as carbon accounting parameters in different forested biomes to use in the model. Six particular global strategies for carbon sequestration in forests will be explored. Marginal cost functions will be developed by comparing welfare paths and carbon sequestration paths in a baseline case with the alternative strategies.

Expected Results:

This research will provide marginal cost functions for six large-scale programs to sequester additional carbon in global forests. The path of carbon flux arising from forest management will be predicted and presented for the baseline path and the alternative sequestration strategies. We maintain that earlier cost estimates may be biased downward because modelers have focused on regional programs, and they have not considered system wide, dynamic effects - both of which are addressed directly here. In addition, several additional strategies to tree planting will be explored in this research.

Improvements in Risk Assessment or Risk Management: This study relates directly to estimating the costs of managing the risks of climate change. Policy makers have long considered forest management as a carbon mitigation strategy, however, cost studies may have previously underestimated these costs. Providing estimates that capture global market interactions and long term, dynamic effects will help fill this information gap.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 14 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

climate change, terrestrial ecosystems, carbon sequestration, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Air, climate change, Economics, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, carbon sequestration, ecosystem valuation, carbon emissions, global vegetation models, global change, cost estimation, environmental policy, global warming , global carbon storage database, forests, changing environmental conditions, economic objectives

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report