This is an article collection published in Carbon Balance and Management.
Land-based mitigation options are crucial to achieve net-zero emissions. Conservation and changes in land use and land management practices can reduce net emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from all sectors; increase the quantity of carbon stored in soils and above ground vegetation; and generate fuels that recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Moreover, land-based mitigation is estimated to be cheap in comparison to energy sector abatement, and it provides other benefits to society like enhancing wildlife habitat, improving water quality, and lessening soil erosion.
To date, economic/ecological modeling and econometric analyses have informed policymakers about the optimal use of land to reduce emissions, the range of land-based mitigation actions, and their costs. For instance, the U.S. forest carbon sink sequesters 700-800 million tons of CO2 per year, which offsets about 10% of U.S. carbon emissions. At $50 per ton CO2, the U.S. has the potential to mitigate an additional 140 million tons of CO2 per year, while the potential globally is 3.2 billion tons CO2 per year. Moreover, as models include more inputs or become more spatially disaggregated, more insights on future scenarios can be developed and used to inform different stakeholders at the local, country, and global level.
This article collection will feature papers from a 2022 USDA Workshop, USDA Carbon Sinks Modeling Meeting, and three thematic summary articles. The articles will examine economic methods and address how those methods are applied to answer policy questions related to climate change mitigation in forests and agricultural soils. A range of different methods will be included in the article collection, including econometric and optimization approaches in economics. In particular, the approaches will highlight how ecosystems are represented in economic models and how the different approaches may influence the results.
In addition to considering these fundamental modeling questions, articles in the article collection will consider current policy questions that can be assessed now with the use of models (e.g. the carbon sequestration potential of subsidy programs, such as recent legislation in the United States, and impacts on land use and land management of the Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement). It will also include articles that address important policy-related questions like additionality, permanence, and leakage, which are critical questions in the land-use space.