Will Rolls

Will Rolls


Project overview

While the general concept of anthropogenic climate change is well established, substantial levels of variation still exist regarding estimates of the rate and degree of change resulting from the many different climate modifying factors. These estimates are commonly viewed either as directly observed effects and modelled outcomes, or through the lens of a variety of different accounting methodologies which seek to regulate emissions, inform policy decisions, or support the positions of various advocacy, and lobbying groups. The design of these GHG accounting methodologies has a strong influence on calculated savings and can therefore, have a significant impact on decision making ability and policy responses. Poor quality assessment of the impacts of different activities can result in perverse incentives and counterproductive actions.

Accumulating carbon emissions are frequently used as an indicator of eventual climate impact, however this relationship is not straightforward. While measurement of emissions from fossil fuel use is a reliable indicator of one aspect of climate forcing, the situation becomes significantly more complex when looking at carbon emissions from within the contemporary carbon cycle. In particular, the temporal difference between emissions and sequestration that exists in forest biomass use, has led to a range of views and competing arguments about the validity of biomass use as a climate change mitigation strategy. Use of measures of global warming potential (GWP) or global temperature change potential (GTP) rather than simple tonnes of CO2 emitted figures goes some way to address this issue, but results are still heavily reliant on assumptions implicit within the calculation.

My Background

My background is in the UK forestry industry where I worked for a number of years for both the Forestry Commission and Forest Research, mainly looking at the development and support of the UK biomass sector. In 2013 I began work as a self-employed consultant supporting clients with biomass and forestry work, I continued this while working part time on an MSc until 2017 when I began my PhD studies.


My project is funded, under conditions of academic independence, by the United bank of Carbon, and the sustainability team at Drax,

Research interests

My research interests are:

  • Forest management, use and development
  • Multi-purpose land management
  • Forest carbon
  • Unconventional biomass fuels
  • Biomass use and supply chains


  • MSc, Sustainability (Climate Change), University of Leeds
  • BSc (Hons), Forestry, University of Wales Bangor
  • Professional member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters

Research groups and institutes

  • Energy and Climate Change Mitigation
  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science