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Keywords:

  • carbon accounting;
  • carbon management;
  • carbon sequestration;
  • carbon sinks;
  • greenhouse gases (GHGs);
  • industrial ecology

Summary

This commentary is prompted by Thomas Wiedmann's “Defining (Urban) Producer and Consumer Sinks” published in this issue. In his article, Wiedmann presents a new framework for categorizing carbon sinks by borrowing practices from carbon emissions accounting and, essentially, proposing a “carbon sink footprint” model for urban inventories.

While this is a valuable new concept, we argue that it is difficult to apply accurately given current knowledge and practices in urban life cycle assessment. Instead, a direct versus embodied classification based on where the sequestration service exists, not where the sink is located, is more useful from the perspective of municipal control and influence over creating and managing carbon sinks. This is ultimately important for the development of urban climate change mitigation measures.