Other Publications

Estimating carbon supply curves from afforestation of agricultural land in the Northeastern U.S.

May, 2011. Jonathan Winsten, Sarah Walker, Sandra Brown and Sean Grimland. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. DOI: 10.1007/s11027-011-9303-0



The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for the northeastern states of the U.S. allows for terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration offsets generated by afforestation activities only. This paper estimates the maximum potential quantity and associated costs of increasing the storage of carbon by afforestation of existing agricultural land in the 11 states of the Northeast United States. The focus of the work was to describe location, the quantity, and at what cost it would be economically attractive to shift agricultural production to afforestation to increase carbon storage in the region. Widely available data sets were used to (1) identify spatially-explicit areas for lower costs carbon offsets and (2) estimate carbon supply curves related to afforestation of agricultural land over three time periods (10, 20, and 40 years). Carbon accumulation and total carbon offset project costs were estimated at a county scale and combined to identify expected costs per ton of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Large variation in estimated costs per ton of CO2e are driven by varying carbon accumulation potentials and opportunity costs of taking land out of agricultural production, as well as the duration of the project activity. Results show that the lowest cost carbon offset projects will be in certain counties of Maine, Vermont, and New York. Pasture land, with lower opportunity costs, generally presents the opportunity for lower cost carbon offset projects relative to cropland.


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Keywords: Other Publications, q. Economics of Forest Carbon, afforestation, agriculture, carbon sequestration, Carbon supply curves, CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION, economic analysis, North America, opportunity costs, USA

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