Methods that equate temporary carbon storage with permanent CO2 emission reductions lead to false claims on temperature alignment

Matthew Brander, Derik Broekhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There has been renewed interest in equating temporary carbon storage with permanent CO2 emission reductions, both within corporate GHG inventories and for carbon offset accounting. Proposed methods discount future emissions, such that carbon stored temporarily can be accounted for as (some fraction of) a permanent reduction in emissions. These approaches are problematic as long-term temperature change is primarily caused by cumulative CO2 emissions and delayed emissions accumulate in the atmosphere the same as any other emission of CO2. This perspective article uses illustrative examples to show how discounting future emissions results in false temperature alignment and net zero claims. We recommend that emissions and removals should be reported without discounting to ensure that GHG accounts accurately reflect contribution to cumulative emissions. There is value in temporarily storing carbon, e.g. it can reduce peak warming and buy time to implement permanent mitigation measures, but it cannot be treated as equivalent to permanent mitigation, and alternative approaches should be used to convey the value of temporary storage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2284714
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalCarbon Management
Volume14
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • temporary carbon storage
  • tonne-year accounting
  • discounting greenhouse gas emissions
  • permanence of stored carbon

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