to meet verification protocols that have been proposed so far. She noted that technology is available to potentially provide the level of data needed to verify forestry offsets, but it is not deployed. She also noted that institutional and economic barriers are large because forestry resources represent both private (nationally sovereign resources) and public (carbon) goods. Macauley provided a back-of-the-envelope estimation of approximately $21 billion as the level of resources that would be necessary to make a one-time census of protocol-quality data for global forested area. There would also be the need to update the forest census periodically and perform field spot checks to ensure that leakage is not occurring. Macauley concluded by noting that countries might pay for gathering such data if their forest carbon is a valued asset and has some marketability. The marketability of forestry resources for offsets might provide the motivation for space agencies to raise the priority of monitoring land-use measures.
The third session ended with comments and questions from the audience. Adele Morris from the Brookings Institution noted that the presentations and the modeling and policy challenges discussed in these talks pointed to some of the political problems for offsets. One, based on the EPA analysis presented by Allen Fawcett, is that the United States would be spending six times as much on imported allowances under H.R. 2454 as on domestic abatements. A second issue noted by Morris is that, considering the potential for transfers of funds from U.S. firms to, for example, Chinese firms, some of that investment provides for the purchase of new technologies and the implementation of more efficient processes. This could present a competitiveness issue as U.S. firms see foreign competitors’ investments in new equipment and processes being underwritten by the offset market. Clay Ogg with EPA’s Office of Policy noted that there were food, fuel, and forest tradeoffs, with the food issue potentially not being sufficiently emphasized in the workshop presentations. His opinion was that initiatives that have even a very modest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions could have a tremendous impact on food supply and food crises. William Nordhaus from Yale University raised the concern that the economic modeling of forestry offsets does not sufficiently take into account research that shows that reforestation or anti-deforestation efforts do not have the effects on climate that are being posited. Such research shows that, even though it is possible to remove a considerable amount of carbon from the atmosphere through reforestation or by stopping deforestation, there is little impact on temperature because these efforts are also changing Earth’s surface albedo and/or water cycle.