Forests are at the heart of society’s action to combat climate change and its impacts. As carbon sinks, trees capture and store carbon, removing significant volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forest products meanwhile, provide us with a carbon-neutral alternative to our reliance on fossil fuels. But to ensure that forests reach their full potential as a climate change solution, they must be managed sustainably. This is where PEFC certification comes in.
The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is pleased with the landmark global climate deal reached in Paris including its recognition of the fundamental role played by the world’s forests.
Nearly 200 countries, including Canada, have agreed to hold the increase in global temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. The agreement calls on countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, while recognizing the role of conservation and the sustainable management of forests.
Canada has more than 9% of the world’s forests which absorb tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide to the benefit of our entire planet. Unlike many other forest nations, all harvested trees are regrown largely ensuring the maintenance of our carbon stocks. More to the point, Canada has virtually zero deforestation, just 0.02% per year.
The Canadian forest products industry is also a world leader in sustainable forest management with 161 million hectares of independently certified forests, four times more than any other country in the world.
“Products made from our renewable forests also store carbon,” says Paul Lansbergen the acting President and CEO of FPAC. “This includes everything from the traditional lumber and books but also new bio-products such as car parts, clothing, cosmetics and green chemicals”. He notes that the net carbon benefit of a single a 100,000 square foot wood building is the equivalent of taking 1400 cars off the road for a year.
The Paris agreement also points to the need to reduce fossil fuels and use renewable forms of energy. In Canada, pulp and paper mills now produce enough green energy to power all the houses in Calgary. About 30 forest facilities now generate green electricity with most selling to the grid.
“The Canadian forest sector has also pledged to be carbon neutral across the supply chain and to further reduce our environmental footprint by 35% by 2020,” says Lansbergen. “Our industry is part of the solution to climate change and we are looking forward to work with government on the road to a low carbon economy.”