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Climate Economics Seminar: Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error

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Date(s): November 18, 2009, 11:00 am to 12:30 pm

Location: Room 4144, EPA West, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Presenter: Timothy D. Searchinger (Princeton University)

Description: The Kyoto Protocol and European and proposed U.S. climate legislation contains a fixable but far-reaching accounting flaw that could lead to widespread deforestation. By exempting all emissions from the consumption of bioenergy while also not limiting emissions from land use, these measures effectively treat all bioenergy use as carbon neutral regardless of the source. Actual reductions by bioenergy depend on the source, and reductions depend on whether the biomass consists of "additional carbon," meaning carbon that would not otherwise be stored in plants or soils. The solution is to count carbon dioxide emissions from bioenergy consumption and to credit bioenergy only to the extent it results from additional carbon.

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