SSEE Event - The Food, Forest, Bioenergy and Terrestrial Carbon Challenge

Taking place at SSEE, University of Oxford, Hayes House, 75 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2BQ.

Speaker: Tim Searchinger (SSEE and OMS Visiting Fellow and Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School)

Seminar Summary: What role is growing demand for food, bioenergy and forest products playing and likely to play in deforestation and other losses of terrestrial carbon?   What role do and can yield gains and pasture intensification play in protecting forests?  Many analysts treat such gains automatically as sparing natural lands while other researchers claim that they often lead to increasing deforestation?  Should Africa’s wetter savannas be viewed as a large, environmentally low cost land reserve?  How do we know underutilized land when we see it?  Answers to these questions are often confused by various conventions and misapplications of land use and carbon accounting and by the failure to appreciate the interlinkages of land use changes worldwide. This talk will address these challenges.

Speaker Biography: Timothy D. Searchinger is an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and a Senior Fellow of the World Resources Institute.  Although trained as a lawyer, his work today combines ecology and economics to analyze the challenge of how to feed a growing world population while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.  Searchinger was the lead author of papers in Science in 2008 and 2009 offering the first calculations of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with land use change due to biofuels, and describing a broader error for bioenergy generally in the accounting rules for the Kyoto Protocol and many national laws.  For most of his career, Searchinger worked as an attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he directed its work on agricultural policy and wetlands and on several major aquatic ecosystems.  He received a National Wetlands Protection Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Searchinger has also been a fellow of the Law and Environmental Policy Institute at Georgetown University Law Center and of the German Marshall Fund.  He has served as a special adviser to the Maryland government on the Chesapeake Bay, as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania and as a law clerk to Judge Edward Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals.  He is a graduate, summa cum laude, of Amherst College and holds a J.D. from Yale Law School where he was Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal.