Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Commercial Forest Carbon Protocol Over-Credit Bias Delimited by Zero-Threshold Carbon Accounting

Version 1 : Received: 4 May 2021 / Approved: 7 May 2021 / Online: 7 May 2021 (16:19:15 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 6 July 2021 / Approved: 7 July 2021 / Online: 7 July 2021 (11:54:59 CEST)

How to cite: Marino, B.D.; Bautista, N. Commercial Forest Carbon Protocol Over-Credit Bias Delimited by Zero-Threshold Carbon Accounting. Preprints 2021, 2021050151 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0151.v1). Marino, B.D.; Bautista, N. Commercial Forest Carbon Protocol Over-Credit Bias Delimited by Zero-Threshold Carbon Accounting. Preprints 2021, 2021050151 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0151.v1).

Abstract

Despite the use of commercial forest carbon protocols (CFCPs) for more than two decades, claiming ~566 MMtCO2e and a market value of ~USD $15.7 billion, comparative analysis of CFCP methodology and offset results is limited. In this study, five widely used biometric-based CFCPs were characterized, and common characteristics and differences were identified. CFCP claims of net forest carbon sequestration are compared with results of directly measured CO2 by eddy covariance, a meteorological method integrating gross vertical fluxes of forest and soil carbon, and the only alternative non-biometric source of net forest carbon sequestration data available. We show here that CFCPs share a structural feature delimiting forest carbon values by zero-threshold carbon accounting (gC m-2 ≤ 0), a pattern opposite to natural emissions of forest CO2 exchange based on direct measurement and a fundamental biological constraint on net forest carbon storage (i.e., soil efflux, ecosystem respiration). Exclusion of forest CO2 sources to the atmosphere precludes net carbon accounting, resulting in unavoidable over-crediting of CFCP offsets. CFCP carbon results are significantly different from global forest CO2 net ecosystem exchange population results (FluxNet2015 gC m-2) at the 95% to 99.99% confidence levels, inferring an annual median error of ~247% (gC m-2), also consistent with over-crediting. Direct CO2 measurement provides an alternative method for commercial forest carbon products, has the potential to harmonize global markets, and catalyze the role of forests in managing climate change through nature-based solutions.

Subject Areas

ACR; CAR CARB; VERRA; NEE

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