Net CO2 benefit
Trees are through photosynthesis using solar power to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transform it into biomass for different uses. This process contributes to combatting climate change in three ways:
- Net increase of carbon stored in living trees and thus removed from the atmosphere – the forest sink
- Net increase of carbon stored in wood product – the product sink
- Net decrease of CO2 emissions from the use of coal, oil, natural gas, and cement – the substitution effect
Based on Holmgren 2019 (skogsnaringens-klimatbidrag.pdf) the following key numbers can be used for calculating forest sink, product sink and substitution effect:
1,001 tons of CO2 are captured for every m3 of increasing standing forest inventory.
0,079 tons of CO2 are captured for every m3 being harvested and turned into products
0,447 tons of CO2 are kept underground through substitution for every m3 being harvested
When applied to the actual net increase of GreenGold’s portfolio of standing forest inventory and harvest levels for the last 12 months, and also after deducting its own carbon footprint to manage the portfolio, the total net climate benefit is as stated above. This corresponds to the total yearly CO2 footprint emission of ca 40 000 people living in Europe.
A small additional amount of carbon dioxide is also captured through an increasing carbon stock under ground because of protecting forests from fire, which is in this case not quantified above.
An important aspect of carbon calculations is additionality. One may reasonably wonder whether the climate benefit in this case can be seen as additional, i.e., if GreenGold contributed to it or if it would have arisen anyway.GreenGold’s view is that these climate benefits should be mainly attributed to the generations of foresters in Europe, who created these growing forests. If the forests had never been managed, they would probably store as much carbon as they do today, but the annual climate benefit from forest inventory growth, product sink and substitution effect would have been zero. In this sense the effects are additional.