Carbon Capture & Storage in Canadian Forestry

Carbon Capture & Storage in Canadian Forestry

a wooded forest in Canada

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a new and important tool in lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the fight against climate change. This method of taking climate action has shown a lot of promise not just in Canada, but around the globe.

The International Panel on Climate Change’s report of global warming of 1.5ºC states there isn’t a successful target pathway that doesn’t include CCS in the plan, therefore CCS is something we’re going to be seeing taking an increasingly larger role as the years pass by in reducing man-made GHG emissions while improving environmental performance.

Today, carbon capture and storage is being utilized by a full spectrum of industries in a variety of different ways. For example, CCS technologies are being used by Canada’s world-class forest industry as a means of taking action on climate while committing to more sustainable development over the long-term.

If you’d like to learn more about CCS, be sure to check out "Carbon Sequestration: What it is, Why it’s Important & How it’s Contributing to Lowering GHG Emissions."

Canadians Rely on the Forestry Sector

A large part of what makes Canada home is our beautiful natural landscapes, including our vast forests spreading across the nation. With the third largest forested area in the world, forests have a big impact on our industries and environment, including acting as a major carbon sink.

Canadians rely heavily on the forestry sector for energy, timber, fibre, paper, and other important day-to-day products. This sector is also an integral part of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP), employing more than 210,000 workers across the country and adding nearly $26 billion to the economy in 2018. It is also a major employer of Indigenous peoples.

For an industry as crucial to Canada’s economy and intrinsically tied to the environment as it is, forestry is one of the industries most well-suited to marry responsible resource development with climate action – especially considering the high expectations of ESG-savvy investors in this day and age. The IPCC has specifically stated that relying on forest industries with high environmental standards and sustainable methods of storing carbon is a very good long-term strategy for lowering atmospheric carbon levels.

Canadian forest industry greenhouse gas emission reductions 2005-2015

How Canada’s Forestry Sector is a CCS Leader

When Canadian forestry workers harvest wood, carbon is naturally stored within these raw materials. According to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, roughly 50 per cent of the harvested carbon removed from the forest is stored in long-lasting structures like a townhouse, for example, with another 25 per cent going into less durable products like newspaper and cardboard. The remaining 25 per cent of carbon is in the form of residues created during the harvesting process. In recent years, Canadian companies are showing heightened interest in using these residues to produce bioenergy, which would then be substituted for fossil fuels.

In addition to enhanced biofuel production, emission offsets related to resource extraction are accomplished by planting over 600 million seedlings in Canada each year as part of reforestation initiatives. which support carbon capture and storage in wood and soil while regenerating precious forest lands.

Let’s not forget about Canada’s world class forest management system either. In 2017 approximately 49% of Canada’s forests were certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management. Certification allows consumers to consider this label before making purchases. It also allows Canadian forest companies to show that they are responsible managers of forest resources. By appropriately managing forests, CO2 is prevented from being released back into the atmosphere.

The World Needs More Canadian Forestry

Canada is a global leader in forestry product exports such as newspaper, oriented strand board and certain types of wood pulp (to name a few). Additionally, we rank high among international peers on environmental, social, and governance metrics, meaning the world is a better place with more forestry products coming from Canada.

As a responsible steward of the environment, and an advocate for supporting local, Canadian jobs, Canada has and will continue to create balanced solutions for people, and the planet. We have a duty to our hard-working citizens to support livelihoods that positively contribute to sustainable resource development, just as we have a duty to maintaining and bettering our status as a global environmental leader.

About the Author

Tatiana Pratt - Eco-Blogger - Canada Action

Tatiana Pratt is an environmental studies student completing her final year at Carleton University. She works with Canada Action and Students for Canada as an eco-blogger, and is also chair of the new climate committee for SFC. Tatiana desires to help create a balance in the conversations surrounding climate change and natural resources, and values equal distribution of care for each crucial pillar - people, planet and prosperity. Tatiana hopes her work with Canada Action and Students for Canada helps bridge the divide between Canadian students and citizens, to meet in the middle and create positive solutions for Canada's future.