Understanding Biogenic Carbon: The Science and Application of Biogenic Carbon in Life Cycle Assessment
A Session by Nathan Ayer and Caroline Taylor
About this Session
Biogenic carbon is carbon that is derived from organic matter, absorbed and released to the atmosphere through biologically-mediated processes in current-era timescales. Current assumptions about the benefits of leveraging the biogenic carbon cycle and biogenic carbon storage have contributed to the global momentum to shift towards a bioeconomy, with bioeconomy concepts underpinning over half of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), as well as being an important element of carbon offsets and credits. The management and modeling of biogenic carbon flows are increasingly at the center of policy, technology, and product development aimed at reducing flows of carbon to the atmosphere and mitigating climate change.
Approaches used to account for biogenic carbon in tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA) are currently lacking in consistency and transparency, and at times are not consistent with the science on biogenic carbon flows. As such, it is increasingly important to understand the science and application of biogenic carbon modeling to avoid misleading results, poorly-targeted policies and innovation, and unintended consequences.
In this session we will explore the basic LCA-relevant scientific background on biogenic carbon and how to understand biogenic carbon flows between the environment and human systems and touch on emerging science. We will also provide an overview of common approaches, misconceptions, examples, and practical implications of modeling biogenic carbon in LCAs of products and systems.