Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment

Tuomas Helin (Corresponding Author), Laura Sokka, Sampo Soimakallio, Kim Pingoud, Tiina Pajula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forests are a significant pool of terrestrial carbon. A key feature related to forest biomass harvesting and use is the typical time difference between carbon release into and sequestration from the atmosphere. Traditionally, the use of sustainably grown biomass has been considered as carbon neutral in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. However, various approaches to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sinks of forest biomass acquisition and use have also been developed and applied, resulting in different conclusions on climate impacts of forest products. The aim of this study is to summarize, clarify, and assess the suitability of these approaches for LCA. A literature review is carried out, and the results are analyzed through an assessment framework. The different approaches are reviewed through their approach to the definition of reference land‐use situation, consideration of time frame and timing of carbon emissions and sequestration, substitution credits, and indicators applied to measure climate impacts. On the basis of the review, it is concluded that, to account for GHG emissions and the related climate impacts objectively, biomass carbon stored in the products and the timing of sinks and emissions should be taken into account in LCA. The reference situation for forest land use has to be defined appropriately, describing the development in the absence of the studied system. We suggest the use of some climate impact indicator that takes the timing of the emissions and sinks into consideration and enables the use of different time frames. If substitution credits are considered, they need to be transparently presented in the results. Instead of carbon stock values taken from the literature, the use of dynamic forest models is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-486
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Change Biology: Bioenergy
Volume5
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fingerprint

life cycle assessment
carbon cycle
climate effect
Life cycle
life cycle
Carbon
carbon
Biomass
climate
biomass
credit
greenhouse gas emissions
Gas emissions
Greenhouse gases
substitution
greenhouse gas
land use
Substitution reactions
stored products
forest dynamics

Keywords

  • boreal
  • climate change
  • climate indicators
  • forest carbon style
  • life cycle assessment

Cite this

Helin, Tuomas ; Sokka, Laura ; Soimakallio, Sampo ; Pingoud, Kim ; Pajula, Tiina. / Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment. In: Global Change Biology: Bioenergy. 2013 ; Vol. 5, No. 5. pp. 475-486.
@article{5d6c5ff5b6c546ffbe7211569ad6550f,
title = "Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment",
abstract = "Forests are a significant pool of terrestrial carbon. A key feature related to forest biomass harvesting and use is the typical time difference between carbon release into and sequestration from the atmosphere. Traditionally, the use of sustainably grown biomass has been considered as carbon neutral in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. However, various approaches to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sinks of forest biomass acquisition and use have also been developed and applied, resulting in different conclusions on climate impacts of forest products. The aim of this study is to summarize, clarify, and assess the suitability of these approaches for LCA. A literature review is carried out, and the results are analyzed through an assessment framework. The different approaches are reviewed through their approach to the definition of reference land‐use situation, consideration of time frame and timing of carbon emissions and sequestration, substitution credits, and indicators applied to measure climate impacts. On the basis of the review, it is concluded that, to account for GHG emissions and the related climate impacts objectively, biomass carbon stored in the products and the timing of sinks and emissions should be taken into account in LCA. The reference situation for forest land use has to be defined appropriately, describing the development in the absence of the studied system. We suggest the use of some climate impact indicator that takes the timing of the emissions and sinks into consideration and enables the use of different time frames. If substitution credits are considered, they need to be transparently presented in the results. Instead of carbon stock values taken from the literature, the use of dynamic forest models is recommended.",
keywords = "boreal, climate change, climate indicators, forest carbon style, life cycle assessment",
author = "Tuomas Helin and Laura Sokka and Sampo Soimakallio and Kim Pingoud and Tiina Pajula",
year = "2013",
doi = "10.1111/gcbb.12016",
language = "English",
volume = "5",
pages = "475--486",
journal = "Global Change Biology: Bioenergy",
issn = "1757-1693",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "5",

}

Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment. / Helin, Tuomas (Corresponding Author); Sokka, Laura; Soimakallio, Sampo; Pingoud, Kim; Pajula, Tiina.

In: Global Change Biology: Bioenergy, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2013, p. 475-486.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment

AU - Helin, Tuomas

AU - Sokka, Laura

AU - Soimakallio, Sampo

AU - Pingoud, Kim

AU - Pajula, Tiina

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - Forests are a significant pool of terrestrial carbon. A key feature related to forest biomass harvesting and use is the typical time difference between carbon release into and sequestration from the atmosphere. Traditionally, the use of sustainably grown biomass has been considered as carbon neutral in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. However, various approaches to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sinks of forest biomass acquisition and use have also been developed and applied, resulting in different conclusions on climate impacts of forest products. The aim of this study is to summarize, clarify, and assess the suitability of these approaches for LCA. A literature review is carried out, and the results are analyzed through an assessment framework. The different approaches are reviewed through their approach to the definition of reference land‐use situation, consideration of time frame and timing of carbon emissions and sequestration, substitution credits, and indicators applied to measure climate impacts. On the basis of the review, it is concluded that, to account for GHG emissions and the related climate impacts objectively, biomass carbon stored in the products and the timing of sinks and emissions should be taken into account in LCA. The reference situation for forest land use has to be defined appropriately, describing the development in the absence of the studied system. We suggest the use of some climate impact indicator that takes the timing of the emissions and sinks into consideration and enables the use of different time frames. If substitution credits are considered, they need to be transparently presented in the results. Instead of carbon stock values taken from the literature, the use of dynamic forest models is recommended.

AB - Forests are a significant pool of terrestrial carbon. A key feature related to forest biomass harvesting and use is the typical time difference between carbon release into and sequestration from the atmosphere. Traditionally, the use of sustainably grown biomass has been considered as carbon neutral in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. However, various approaches to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sinks of forest biomass acquisition and use have also been developed and applied, resulting in different conclusions on climate impacts of forest products. The aim of this study is to summarize, clarify, and assess the suitability of these approaches for LCA. A literature review is carried out, and the results are analyzed through an assessment framework. The different approaches are reviewed through their approach to the definition of reference land‐use situation, consideration of time frame and timing of carbon emissions and sequestration, substitution credits, and indicators applied to measure climate impacts. On the basis of the review, it is concluded that, to account for GHG emissions and the related climate impacts objectively, biomass carbon stored in the products and the timing of sinks and emissions should be taken into account in LCA. The reference situation for forest land use has to be defined appropriately, describing the development in the absence of the studied system. We suggest the use of some climate impact indicator that takes the timing of the emissions and sinks into consideration and enables the use of different time frames. If substitution credits are considered, they need to be transparently presented in the results. Instead of carbon stock values taken from the literature, the use of dynamic forest models is recommended.

KW - boreal

KW - climate change

KW - climate indicators

KW - forest carbon style

KW - life cycle assessment

U2 - 10.1111/gcbb.12016

DO - 10.1111/gcbb.12016

M3 - Article

VL - 5

SP - 475

EP - 486

JO - Global Change Biology: Bioenergy

JF - Global Change Biology: Bioenergy

SN - 1757-1693

IS - 5

ER -