Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Carbon Neutral Forest Industry?

Canada's forest industry plans to be carbon neutral by 2015. Better yet, the Forest Products Association of Canada says it will meet that goal without resort to carbon offset schemes.

The forest bloc seems to have recognized the risk it faces from climate change ranging from more severe forest fires to widespread insect infestations. From the Toronto Star:

The effort must extend beyond forests and mills to wood and paper consumers, such as construction sites, homes and offices, Avrim Lazar, president of the Forest Products Association of Canada, said.

The aim is to protect both the environment and the industry's bottom line, said Lazar, who was to announce the pledge this morning at a conference in Ottawa.

Global demand for wood products is soaring, he said. "If people continue to do it the old way ... it won't be very good for the planet."

The devastating spread of pine beetles in British Columbia – partly because winters are no longer cold enough to kill the insects – is a wake-up call, he said.

"We got a lesson in the impact of climate change before most of the rest of Canada."

As well, global buyers increasingly demand products from "sustainable" operations. That can be an edge for Canadian firms, which face fierce competition from China, Brazil and other places where trees grow faster, costs are lower, and environment rules can be lax.

The Canadian industry has reduced its greenhouse emissions 44 per cent since 1990, when its output increased by 20 per cent.

Part of the industry's plan is a major initiative in recycling by keeping paper out of landfills and recovering scrap lumber from building sites. Major improvements have already been achieved at pulp, paper and saw mills.

Now if only Stevie Harper and Ed Stelmach can give their weary knees a rest and stand up to Alberta's tar gobblers, we might actually have a chance of getting somewhere.

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