Counting Carbon in Bioenergy Systems-Opportunities and Challenges

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

**Apologies for the disparity in volume between the 2 speakers in this webinar recording. Host's voice is quiet, while speaker's is louder - adjust speaker volume accordingly. We will attempt to remedy this in future presentations.**

Presenter: Peter Woodbury, Cornell University

This presentation considers aspects of the carbon cycle critical for bioenergy carbon accounting in general. (The EPA accounting framework specifically will be addressed in the next session.)

In addition to the carbon cycle, we include methane and nitrous oxide because these greenhouse gases (GHGs) are much more potent than carbon dioxide, so small amounts really matter when counting overall GHG emissions. We will review different kinds of biomass feedstocks and bioenergy systems. We will critically examine claims that bioenergy systems are either "carbon-neutral" or that they emit more GHGs than fossil fuel systems. We will discuss important issues that greatly affect GHG accounting, including choice of baseline, scope of the analysis, spatial scales (local to national) and time scales (annual to centuries). Furthermore, we will ask how stakeholders, regulators, and scientists may have different goals and priorities for greenhouse gas accounting rules. We will also examine some examples of existing accounting rules and what they suggest about key opportunities and challenges for accurately accounting for GHG emissions from bioenergy systems.


About this webinar series
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was announced by President Obama and the EPA in August 2015 and provides the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants. The final rule takes into account over 4.3 million stakeholder and public comments to ease its implementation, with individual states, tribes, and territories building their own plans to meet mandated carbon reduction goals specific to each planning entity. The proposed state plans outlining how this will be achieved must contain specific steps for each tool in a portfolio of methods used to meet state-level goals: emissions trading, increasing energy efficiency on both supply and demand sides, shifting coal generation to natural gas generation, and/or increasing renewable power generation. That last category leaves room for biomass energy, but stakeholders in the bioeconomy still seek clarification on exactly how biomass could or should fit in to a state plan. This webinar series begins to tackle that question, providing guidance, information from cutting-edge research, and expert perspectives on the role sustainable bioenergy can play in state plans designed to meet CPP requirements. Though the US Supreme Court recently granted a stay on the CPP, many states continue developing their individual plans, and the need for information and clarity regarding this policy remains.

To find out more about this webinar series, visit the CPP Webinar Series Homepage:

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Peter Woodbury, Cornell University