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Impact of Harvested Wood Products Consumption Strategies on British Columbia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions
* 1, 2, 3 , 4 , 5
1  Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, University House 1, 2489 Sinclair Rd, Victoria, BC, Canada V8N 6M2.
2  University of British Columbia, 2045-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.
3  Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, 506 Burnside Road West, Victoria, BC, Canada V8Z 1M5.
4  Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, 506 Burnside Road West, Victoria, BC, Canada V8Z 1M5
5  University of British Columbia, 2900-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
Academic Editor: Miha Humar (registering DOI)

Keeping global temperature increases to below 2 ℃ will require reducing emissions and enhancing sinks and the use of forest products can contribute to both. This research quantitatively compared the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission consequences of various harvested wood products (HWPs) utilization and export strategies for British Columbia’s (BC) bioeconomy.

A carbon dynamics model, MitigAna, was developed to enable scenario-based mitigation analysis for HWPs with modules calculating substitution benefits and cascading product uses. Timber construction and wood-derived biofuels were identified as important contributors to GHG mitigation. Construction was the most climatically efficient utilization of HWPs because of its longer carbon storage and its ability to displace emissions from other emission-intensive building materials. At current harvest rates, the theoretical maximum mitigation benefit that BC forest products can contribute is 66 MtCO₂e yr⁻¹. However, BC does not currently have sufficient international market access to fully realize the mitigation potential of a construction-focused bioeconomy. Biofuel displacement markets are sufficient to provide promising substitution benefits, if the technology becomes available at a commercial scale. The best practical strategy that combines timber construction and biofuels can achieve 17.4 MtCO₂e yr⁻¹, equivalent to 30% of British Columbia's 2050 reduction target. This would involve building the same floor area as at present, but the domestic market share of timber construction would need to double at the expense of concrete and steel. Redirecting biomass feedstock from exported pulp and wood pellets, 4.4 billion L yr⁻¹ biofuels would be produced, equivalent to 50% of the energy demand in BC's transportation sector. A transformation of BC’s forest bioeconomy may help achieve both climate and socio-economic benefits. However, potential conflict exists between BC-specific benefits and maximizing the global GHG mitigation outcome. International policies and accounting rules can influence the desired global mitigation outcomes.

Keywords: climate change mitigation; emission reduction; carbon ; harvested wood products; bioeconomy; mass timber construction; biofuel