Impacts of biogenic CO2 emissions on human health and terrestrial ecosystems: The case of increased wood extraction for bioenergy production on a global scale

van Zelm R, Muchada PAN, van der Velde M, Kindermann G, Obersteiner M, & Huijbregts MAJ (2015). Impacts of biogenic CO2 emissions on human health and terrestrial ecosystems: The case of increased wood extraction for bioenergy production on a global scale. GCB Bioenergy 7 (4): 608-617. DOI:10.1111/gcbb.12153.

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Abstract

Biofuels are a potentially important source of energy for our society. Common practice in life cycle assessment (LCA) of bioenergy has been to assume that any carbon dioxide (CO2) emission related to biomass combustion equals the amount absorbed in biomass, thus assuming no climate change impacts. Recent developments show the significance of contributions of biogenic CO2 emissions during the time they stay in the atmosphere. The goal of this article is to develop a global, spatially explicit method to quantify the potential impact on human health and terrestrial ecosystems of biogenic carbon emissions coming from forest wood extraction for biofuel production. For this purpose, changes in aboveground carbon stock (delta C forest) due to an increase in wood extraction via changes in rotation time are simulated worldwide with a 0.5x0.5 degree grid resolution. Our results show that both impacts and benefits can be obtained. When the extraction increase is reached by creating a longer rotation time, new growth is allowed resulting in carbon benefits. In a case study, we assessed the life cycle impacts of heat production via wood to determine the significance of including biogenic CO2 emissions due to changes in forest management. Impacts of biogenic CO2 dominate the total climate change impacts from a wood stove. Depending on the wood source country, climate change impacts due to heat production from wood either have an important share in the overall impacts on human health and terrestrial ecosystems, or allow for a large additional CO2 sink.

Forestry rotation time; Global scale modelling; Human health impact; Life cycle impact assessment; Spatially explicit

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: GCB Bioenergy; 7(4):608-617 (July 2015) (Published online 8 March 2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:53
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2016 11:58
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11437

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