One telling point that carbon tax advocates make against cap-and-trade systems is that they create an enormous incentive for rent-seeking. Now it seems the timber industry is getting in on the game. Via Greenwire (sub rqd), this has my BS alarm all a-ringin’:
[Timber] Industry groups are lobbying Congress and making a public relations push to promote privately managed forests as carbon sinks — a bid for a place in potential cap-and-trade schemes for greenhouse gas emissions.
The industry’s congressional testimony, posters and educational materials promote the potential for carbon storage in young, growing forests managed by timber companies and in manufactured wood products, even old wooden furniture and Revolutionary War-era homes.
“We’re in the business of growing trees and putting carbon in long-term storage through the lumber and wood products we produce,” said Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, an Oregon-based timber industry group.
“It’s just such common sense,” West said. “What’s the number one carbon offset? Planting trees. We do that for a living.”
And guess what? According to timber industry estimates, forests that are regularly cut down and replanted sequester even more carbon! How fortuitous for them.
You can see why the timber industry is desperate. Environmental battles in the ’90s sullied their reputation; beetle infestations and wildfires are crushing their bottom lines (according to the IPCC, to the tune of $1 to $2 billion by the end of the century). Nonetheless, I’m with this guy:
"It’s the same old timber beast, with the same old solution, which is, ‘Let us cut down more trees no matter what the problem is,’" said Franz Matzner of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Whether it’s forest fires, climate change or rural economics, their answer always seems to be the same."
And also with these unnamed critics:
Critics of using forests as carbon sinks cite the difficulty with verifying and tracking carbon offsets and the potential for wildfires, which would not only lose the stored carbon but release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition, paying U.S. companies not to cut forests to sequester carbon could simply transfer demand for timber overseas, leading to increased deforestation in tropical regions.