'The critical case for reforming land-based carbon accounting' with Tim Searchinger

30 March 2022

The capacity of land to grow plants plays a key role in emerging carbon-neutrality climate strategies of both countries and companies.

Strategies often claim credit for using this capacity to reduce emissions from other sectors, as in the case of bioenergy or long-lived wood products, or to reforest land and thereby offset other emissions. Yet, there is a fixed quantity of global land, and the benefits of one use need to be offset against the opportunity costs.

This talk will argue that in various ways standard national IPCC reporting guidance, national laws, carbon offset rules and lifecycle approaches all fail to count or fully count these opportunity costs. The flaws are resulting in important national and corporate strategies that are likely to harm both the climate and biodiversity. As one example, the EU’s newly proposed Fit for 55 strategy is likely to outsource much of Europe’s land requirements even as Europe already appropriates land outside Europe heavily to meet its needs. The talk will discuss the types of reforms needed and the role climate scientists and researchers can play in pressing for reforms.

This event is hosted by the Oxford Martin School in conjunction with the Oxford Biodiversity Network