White Papers

Review of Literature on Forest Products-Related Avoided Greenhouse Gas Emissions (WP-20-06)

July 28, 2020 Attachment: WP-20-06_Avoided_GHG_Emissions_July2020

Over many years, a body of research has been developed examining the greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon attributes of forests and forest products. This research has demonstrated that forest-based products, particularly building materials, provide long-term GHG mitigation benefits when they substitute for more GHG-intensive alternatives. In this context, when undertaking GHG inventories, some companies may wish to report the emissions avoided as a result of use of their sold products; however, there is no standard guidance on how to do so, and relatively few suggested approaches have been established to date.

This NCASI white paper examines research on forest products-related avoided emissions in the context of existing calculating and reporting guidance. It finds that forest products, and wood products in particular, generally release less GHG over their life cycle than fossil fuel-intensive alternatives and have the capacity to store carbon over long periods of time.

NCASI found that different organizations have used different approaches in calculating avoided emissions. Approaches typically involve consideration of the full life cycle (i.e., from raw material extraction to final disposal) of forest products and their alternatives but use different metrics for reporting. In addition, net biomass CO2 removals are sometimes aggregated with avoided fossil fuel emissions, making the results less transparent.