Woody biomass: its use and a viable mitigation option for c | 16489
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African Journal of Food Science and Technology

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Woody biomass: its use and a viable mitigation option for carbon capture and storage


Keith Openshaw

The recent IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on climate change, states that to avoid a 20C rise in average global surface temperature warming above pre-industrial levels, concerted action needs to be taken. But because of stunning government inaction to deal with climate change, the ‘symbolic doomsday clock’ has recently been moved forward by two minutes to three minutes to midnight. One of the recommendations of the AR5 report is to greatly expand carbon capture and storage (CCS), but only specific ‘high tech’ solutions were considered. A ‘low tech’ solution, which is universal, is CCS and use through tree planting. From 2016 to 2050 about 420 GtC will have been added to the atmosphere. Models were compiled to examine the land requirements and the probable cost involved in capturing this carbon in wood and forest soils. The most optimistic model estimates that 109 million hectares (ha) of farmland converted to plantations woodlots and agro-forestry etc. is sufficient to capture 420 GtC at a cost of US$272 billion (0.18/CO2) : an obvious candidate for the ‘green climate fund’. The most pessimistic model would require 331.5 million at a cost of US$1,243 billion (0.81/tCO2). It is proposed that two-thirds of the planting take place in less developed countries (LDCs) to provide employment and wood products, especially for the rural poor. Because population increase is a prime cause of deforestation, loss of biodiversity and the expanded use of natural resources, tempering population increase is vital as is increasing agricultural (and silvicultural) productivity. CCS through tree planting/tending and forest/woodland management should assist many people, especially the rural poor in LDCS, and be an essential part in the quest for greenhouse gas mitigation and truly sustainable development.

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