Forest industry fights climate change; Association promises to erase carbon footprint by 2015Posted: October 30, 2007
Section: Global Warming
Mike De Souza, October 30, 2007, Star Phoenix -- Canada's forest products industry is pledging to stretch beyond its comfort zone with a new commitment to fight climate change by eliminating its carbon footprint by 2015.
The Forest Products Association of Canada says it will make the official announcement this morning at a conference on the business of climate change, signalling that the rest of the economy should also raise the bar with concrete action instead of waiting for government regulation.
"It's going to require some serious changes to get there," said association president Avrim Lazar on Monday. "We're not planning to do it by paying someone else to give us permission to pollute. So we're not buying offsets by asking some guy in Ecuador to plant a tree for us or trying to hide the carbon dioxide in a hole in the ground. . . . We're actually going to be carbon neutral intrinsic to our industry."
The forest products industry is ahead of other sectors on reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions, and could be penalized by the new federal plan to regulate industry since the federal government has set targets based on emissions in 2005, without recognizing sectors that had already reduced their carbon footprint. Although the industry increased production by 20 per cent since 1990, it has slashed its consumption of fossil fuels by 45 per cent, and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 44 per cent during the same period.
Lorne Johnson, the Ottawa bureau director for the World Wildlife Fund Canada, said his group is endorsing the new industry initiative, calling it the first announcement of its kind for an entire sector. But he stressed the new partnership wasn't an endorsement of unsustainable logging practices.
"What we're talking about are the emissions from manufacturing, the emissions from the products that end up in landfills, from transportation, etc. from the sector," he said. "Of course, some people in the public may think (we're saying that) they're all green and everything's good. That would be unfortunate to reach that conclusion. We're not making that claim. What we're saying is they are making a leadership commitment on greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change as a sector and we're supporting it."
Johnson said he doesn't expect an industry such as the energy-intensive oilsands industry in Alberta to eliminate their carbon footprint by 2015, but he believes they should follow the forest products companies by stretching to meet targets beyond their comfort zone.