Joint Seminar: Building an urban carbon sink

The expected growth of urban population worldwide will create immense demand for the development and construction of new housing, commercial buildings, and accompanying infrastructure over the coming quarter century. Conventional wisdom perceives this construction wave as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the associated production of cement, steel, aluminum, and other pertinent materials. Might it be possible to turn this anticipated threat to the global climate system into a powerful mitigation scheme? Here we explore the potential double climate dividend of constructing buildings from wood and other biomass-based materials. This re-invention would (i) dramatically reduce the carbon-intensive production of mineral-based building materials and (ii) provide long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2 as extracted by the growth of photosynthesizing plants. As a political measure for boosting the use of biomass-based materials in construction, we suggest that relevant industries and real estate owners should be incentivized by credits that account for both the volume and the duration of carbon stored in materials and structures.




15:15 h


Bundesstr. 53, room 022/023
Seminar Room 022/023, Ground Floor, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Hamburg


Galina Churkina, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies


Victor Brovkin

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