Forest industry adds its voice to call for made-in-Canada climate change policy
In a presentation to last month's Globe conference in Vancouver, Avrim Lazar, president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), encouraged the new government in Ottawa to develop a "made in Canada" climate change policy that will also be effective in the context of the global realities of climate change. He added his industry's voice to the call for greater concentration on adaptation measures.
Citing to current examples of the devastating impact of climate change, such as warmer winters which have allowed the mountain pine beetle to flourish and wreak environmental and economic havoc in British Columbia, Lazar called on governments and society to invest in research, policies and programs to help Canadians both adapt to climate change and to mitigate its impact.
He pointed out that "the forest products industry is...profoundly shaped by the fact that the future of our industry and the prosperity it generates is almost entirely dependent on the continued well-being of our ecosystem.
"The impact of climate change on the physical environment and the subsequent impact on the biosphere will be increasingly dramatic and implementing climate change mitigation measures will help to reduce that
impact but won't stop climate change," Lazar continued. "As a most effected [sic] country, Canada needs to rebalance its climate change strategy to give adaptation measures greater prominence. Effective climate change policy therefore must not only focus on how to reduce Canada's impact on the climate it must also put far more emphasis on how Canada will adapt to the impact of a changing climate on us."
Lazar further argued that mitigation will require a fundamental retooling of energy use and sources. Solutions that "clean up" industry or reduce usage by citizens are necessary but will not alone achieve what is needed. Governments and industry must focus strategically on the post-Kyoto period and the need for deep, long-term, re-engineering. Climate change policy must also be in integrated into all other government policies, i.e. relating to transportation, housing, resource and social issues.
Canada's forest products industry stands as an example of the type of re-engineering that is required, Lazar said. Even in the face of challenging market conditions, the industry has invested $4 billion annually in facility upgrades and the development of new technologies. This investment has been instrumental in helping the industry migrate away from the use of fossil fuels toward renewable and Kyoto-neutral biofuels. The results have been significant, as the industry has:
*reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since 1990 (while increasing production by the 28%);
*developed energy-efficient production facilities that self-generate 60% of their energy needs from new, clean and renewable bioenergy (and small hydro) made from wood waste instead of fossil fuels;
*undertaken sustainable forest management practices which help remove greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), from the air; and
*attained dramatic increases in paper recycling efforts that reduce methane emissions by diverting wastepaper from landfills.
These and other achievements are detailed in the FPAC's just-released annual review for 2005. Its title, Transformation, reflects the industry's continuing push, as noted by Lazar, to re-engineer and renew itself in order to remain sustainable and profitable as it comes to grip with what the report calls a "perfect storm" of adverse economic factors, including the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., a rising Canadian dollar, rapid increases in fibre and energy costs in some areas, and the mountain pine beetle infestation in BC and Alberta.
The steadily rising shift to renewable energy has enabled the industry to reduce not only its GHG emissions, it has contributed to a 62% drop in particulate emissions since 1992. Water consumption has declined by 34% since 1989, and the proportion of recycled materials (e.g. sawmill residues and waste paper) used to make new paper and paperboard has risen to 80%, with a total of five million tonnes of recovered paper used in papermaking in 2005. Last year, the recovery rate for recycled paper stood at 46%.
By the end of 2005, notes the report, the amount of forest area that had received third-party certification to recognized standards for forest management (e.g. Canadian Standards Association, Forest Stewardship Council) had reached 119 million hectares, with the percentage of Canada's original forest area retained reaching 91%.