The stock dynamics of harvested wood products (HWPs) are a relevant component of anthropogenic carbon cycles. Generally, HWP stock increases are treated as carbon removals from the atmosphere, while stock decreases are considered emissions. Among the different approaches suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for accounting HWPs in national greenhouse gas inventories, the production approach has been established as the common approach under the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. However, the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change decided that alternative approaches can also be used. The IPCC has published guidelines for estimating HWP carbon stocks and default parameters for the various approaches in the 2006 Guidelines, 2013 Guidance, and 2019 Refinement. Although there are significant differences among the default methods in the three IPCC guidelines, no studies have systematically quantified or compared the results from the different guidelines on a global scale. This study quantifies the HWP stock dynamics and corresponding carbon removals/emissions under each approach based on the default methods presented in each guideline for 235 individual countries/regions.
We identified relatively good consistency in carbon stocks/removals between the stock-change and the atmospheric flow approaches at a global level. Under both approaches, the methodological and parameter updates in the 2019 Refinement (e.g., considered HWPs, starting year for carbon stocks, and conversion factors) resulted in one-third reduction in carbon removals compared to the 2006 Guidelines. The production approach leads to a systematic underestimation of global carbon stocks and removals because it confines accounting to products derived from domestic harvests and uses the share of domestic feedstock for accounting. The 2013 Guidance and the 2019 Refinement reduce the estimated global carbon removals under the production approach by 15% and 45% (2018), respectively, compared to the 2006 Guidelines.
Gradual refinements in the IPCC default methods have a considerably higher impact on global estimates of HWP carbon stocks and removals than the differences in accounting approaches. The methodological improvements in the 2019 Refinement halve the global HWP carbon removals estimated in the former version, the 2006 Guidelines.
By considering trade-offs and complementarity between carbon removal from the atmosphere by forests and emission reduction by wood use, we developed a forest-sector carbon integrated model for Japan. We discuss mitigation measures for Japan based on model projections. The integrated model included the forest model and the wood use model. Based on three scenarios (baseline, moderate increase, and rapid increase) of harvesting and wood use, the integrated model projected mitigation effects including carbon removal by forests and emission reduction through the wider use of wood, until 2050. Results indicate that forests will not become a source of net carbon emissions under the three scenarios considered. The baseline scenario is most effective for mitigating climate change, for most periods. However, the sum total of carbon removal in forests and carbon emission reductions by wood use under the rapid increase scenario exceeded the one of the moderate increase scenario after 2043. This was because of strong mitigation activities: promoting replanting, using new high-yield varieties, and wood use. The results also indicated that increases in emission reduction due to greater wood use compensated for 67.9 % of the decrease of carbon removal in 2050, for the rapid increase scenario. The results show that carbon removal in forests is most important in the short term because of the relative youth of the planted forests in Japan, and that mitigation effects by material and energy substitution may become greater over the longer term.