Beyond Carbon Neutral Seminar Series: Forest Management and the Expanding Global Forest Carbon Sink

Thursday, January 12, 2017
3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Rackham Building 4th Floor West Room, 915 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Download an event flyer here

The Energy Institute welcomes guest lecturer Dr. Brent Sohngen from Ohio State University.  Dr. Sohngen will talk about the challenges and issues associated with utilizing land-based carbon sinks in national climate mitigation plans.  Are they realistic for the near-term?  Mid-century?   Policies and incentives for land use and land management under various assumptions will be shared, with evidence on how likely they are to be effective.


Despite deforestation and the conversion of forests to agricultural uses globally, the IPCC suggests that the net carbon sink globally amounts to around 1.5-2.0 Pg C per year.  In the US, forests sequester around 0.2 Pg C per year.  Much of this increase in forest carbon storage is attributed to forest regrowth, aging forests, and carbon fertilization. The role of management is less well understood. This talk will present a model of historical global forest management over the period 1900-2010 with a dynamic optimization model.  The results illustrate how forest management has contributed to the current global carbon sink, accounting for around 30% of the global sink capacity. Also assessed is how the demand for forest products, including biofuels and carbon capture and storage, could encourage significantly larger investments in forest management in the future.  Tradeoffs between market driven scenarios that favor biofuels, and policy scenarios that encourage carbon sequestration and storage in forested ecosystems are examined.

Speaker Biography

Brent Sohngen is a professor of environmental and resource economics in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at The Ohio State University. He also leads Ohio State’s Environmental Policy Initiative. Dr. Sohngen received his doctorate in environmental and resource economics from Yale University in 1996. He conducts research on the economics of land use change, the design of incentive mechanisms for water and carbon trading, carbon sequestration, and valuation of environmental resources. Dr. Sohngen developed a global forest and land use model that has been widely used to assess the implications of climate change on ecosystems and markets, and to assess the costs of carbon sequestration in forests, including reductions in deforestation. Dr. Sohngen has written or co-written 31 peer-reviewed journal articles, 45 monographs and book chapters. He co-authored sections of the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, and he co-authored the forestry chapter of the most recent U.S. National Climate Assessment Report. Additionally, he has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research.  He teaches courses on “Food, Population and the Environment” and “Energy, the Environment, and the Economy”.

About the Beyond Carbon Neutral Seminar Series

The Beyond Carbon Neutral Program is housed at the Energy Institute, and focuses on atmospheric CO2 removal to mitigate climate change. The project involves over 50 faculty affiliates from 19 disciplines.  The seminar series features four guest speakers in Winter term 2017 around the topic of carbon removal and sequestration, and is curated by John DeCicco (Energy Institute), Bill Currie (School of Natural Resources), and Joe Arvai (Erb Institute).  The series is sponsored by the Office of Research.