School of Earth and Environment

William Rolls William Rolls

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address:
Room: 9.127

Affiliation: Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science


Will's background is in the UK forestry industry where he 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 he began work as a self-employed consultant supporting clients with biomass and forestry work, he continued this while working part time on an MSc until 2017 when he began his PhD studies.


MSc in Sustainability (Climate Change), 2016, University of Leeds
BSc (Hons) in Forestry, 2001, Bangor University


Professional member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters (MicFor)

Research Interests

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

Project details

Project title

Comparing carbon: accounting, modelling, and outcomes


Professor Piers Forster and Professor Dominick Spracklen


The project is jointly funded by the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) and Drax

Start date

1 February 2017

Project outline

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.

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.

The project is expected to include a comprehensive comparison of the overall impacts of woody biomass bioenergy use with a critical analysis of the limitations within modelling and accounting systems.


Evans, J. and Rolls, W. 2015. Getting Started in Your Own Wood 1st ed. East Meon: Permanent.
Rolls, W. 2013. The Log Book: Getting The Best From Your Woodburning Stove 2nd ed. East Meon: Permanent.
Rolls, W. 2011. The Log Book: Getting The Best From Your Woodburning Stove 1st ed. Sheffield: WRolls