Forest carbon sequestration is a widely accepted natural climate solution, however, methods to determine net carbon offsets are limited to commercial carbon proxies and CO2 eddy covariance research. Non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHG) (e.g., CH4, N2O) receive less attention in the context of forests, in part, due to emphasis on CO2 and the operational requirements and cost for three-gas eddy covariance platforms. In this study, Howland forest flux tower (CO2, CH4) and soil flux data (CO2, CH4, N2O), representing net emission reductions, are linked to their respective social costs to estimate commercial revenue if sold as a GHG social cost forest offset product (GHG-SCF). Estimated annual revenue for GHG-SCF products, applicable to realization of a Green New Deal, range from 120,000 covering the site area of 557 acres in 2021, to 12,000,000 for extrapolation to 40,000 acres in 2040, assuming a 3% discount rate. The Howland Forest CO2 flux record for two adjacent towers is compared to California Air Resources Board forest carbon proxy data for compliance sequestration offsets, the only project site where these approaches overlap. Overcrediting, incomplete carbon accounting with annual errors of up to 2,256%, inadequate third-party verification, and limited application to non-CO2 GHG’s are established. In contrast, direct measurement of one or more GHG’s offers new forest products and revenue incentives to restore and conserve forests worldwide.
California Air Resources Board; carbon trading; Climate Action Reserve; eddy covariance; forest carbon protocols; forest carbon supply chain; Green New Deal; Howland Forest; net ecosystem exchange; social cost of CO2, CH4, N2O
EARTH SCIENCES, Atmospheric Science
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