UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Impact of harvested wood products consumption strategies on British Columbia's greenhouse gas emissions Xie, Sheng Hao


Keeping global temperature increases to below 2 ℃ will require reducing emissions and enhancing sinks and forest product uses can contribute. 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 state-of-the-art model, MitigAna, was developed to enable scenario-based mitigation analysis for HWPs with modules calculating substitution benefits and cascading uses. Timber construction and wood-based 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 larger displacement factor than other applications. However, BC does not currently have sufficient international market access to fully realize the mitigation potential of a construction-focused bioeconomy, whereas available biofuel displacement markets would be sufficient to provide promising substitution benefits if technology to produce biofuels from woody biomass becomes available at a commercial scale. GHG mitigation can be achieved by promoting wood buildings for future construction and shifting biomass supply from short-lived exports, such as pulp and wood pellets, to biofuel production, and mandating that these biofuels displace fossil fuels. This strategy would mitigate on average 17.4 MtCO2e year⁻¹ between 2016 and 2050, which is equivalent to about 34% of BC's 2050 reduction targets. 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 year⁻¹ "drop-in" biofuels would be produced, equivalent to 50% of the energy demand in BC's transportation sector. This strategy may be a promising pathway for BC to achieve significant decarbonization in the transportation sector. However, if international collaborations on future wood buildings were in place, BC's HWP sector could make a maximum global mitigation contribution of 66 MtCO2e year⁻¹. This indicates that potential conflict exits between BC-specific benefits and maximizing the global GHG mitigation outcome. International policies and accounting rules can influence the desired global mitigation outcomes.

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