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Climate Change Mitigation Challenge for Wood UtilizationThe Case of Finland

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journal contribution
posted on 13.04.2016, 00:00 by Sampo Soimakallio, Laura Saikku, Lauri Valsta, Kim Pingoud
The urgent need to mitigate climate change invokes both opportunities and challenges for forest biomass utilization. Fossil fuels can be substituted by using wood products in place of alternative materials and energy, but wood harvesting reduces forest carbon sink and processing of wood products requires material and energy inputs. We assessed the extended life cycle carbon emissions considering substitution impacts for various wood utilization scenarios over 100 years from 2010 onward for Finland. The scenarios were based on various but constant wood utilization structures reflecting current and anticipated mix of wood utilization activities. We applied stochastic simulation to deal with the uncertainty in a number of input variables required. According to our analysis, the wood utilization decrease net carbon emissions with a probability lower than 40% for each of the studied scenarios. Furthermore, large emission reductions were exceptionally unlikely. The uncertainty of the results were influenced clearly the most by the reduction in the forest carbon sink. There is a significant trade-off between avoiding emissions through fossil fuel substitution and reduction in forest carbon sink due to wood harvesting. This creates a major challenge for forest management practices and wood utilization activities in responding to ambitious climate change mitigation targets.