World Business Council for Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Forest Products Industry, Carbon and Climate Change – Key Messages for Policy-Makers (2007 Update)

This publication calls for public policies that make the best use of the forestry sector’s carbon profile and carbon cycle. It proposes six key points that those responsible for devising forestry and carbon policies need to know, and it highlights the carbon opportunities and challenges facing the sector.

Specifically, the Sustainable Forest Products Industry (SFPI) calls on policy-makers to:

  • Support public policies that promote accelerated depreciation rates so that companies can invest in energy- and carbon-intensity improvements;
  • Promote the efficient use of biomass through the value chain including recycling, extraction of energy and wise use of limited land resources;
  • Promote biomass energy as an important component of policies to control atmospheric CO2 based on adequate supplies of fresh fiber and increased recovery of used wood and fiber;
  • Create public policies and carbon crediting schemes that recognize all activities that accomplish real and verifiable reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gases;
  • Carefully evaluate public policies for unintended consequences, particularly those adverse to the goals of achieving reductions in atmospheric concentrations of carbon and supporting a sustainable forest products industry;
  • Expand efforts to bring more of the world’s forests under sustainable management as a means of reducing carbon emissions.
  • The SFPI recognizes that opportunities abound in the forestry sector to maximize the sector’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including breakthrough technologies to significantly reduce energy consumption within the industry.

“Supplying society and industry with increasing amounts of sustainably produced wood and fiber for use as a raw material for products and for bioenergy, and increasing the capture and use of recycled fiber are two key opportunities,” according to Mikael Hannus, Vice President Energy with Stora Enso and co-chair of the SFPI Energy and Climate Action Team.

'By improving energy efficiency and through the innovative use of biomass in energy production, we can continue to contribute to the sustainability of our companies, society and the planet. Our contribution requires policies that create a favorable business environment for this to happen. One of the best ways to achieve this is making our messages available to policy-makers and their advisors and demonstrating that our interests our aligned with theirs to create a sustainable global economy,” says Mark Watkins, Senior Vice President at MeadWestvaco and co-chair of WBCSD’s SFPI working group that produced the document.

But with the opportunities also come challenges, such as managing the complex connections between the industry and the global carbon cycle, where hastily enacted climate change policies can have unintended consequences, and the fact that the industry is capital intensive, making it difficult and expensive to change technology in response to short-term policy measures. Additionally, rapidly growing interest in using wood and other types of biomass for fuels and bio-based products creates competition for the industry’s primary raw material and the land where it grows.

“With some 540 million tons of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere per year and stored in forest products, the forestry sector plays an important role in addressing the carbon challenge. This role can be maintained and enhanced through appropriate policies,” says Reid Miner, Vice President at NCASI, the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, an independent, non-profit research institute that provided technical content for the publication.

James Griffiths, the WBCSD’s SFPI project director, notes that according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, around 20% of global CO2 emissions comes from forest conversion and degradation. “This means that bringing more of the world’s forests under sustainable management is a critically important mitigation strategy, and our working group urges all climate stakeholders - governments, development agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector - to support and implement appropriate policies that reduce deforestation in developing countries and encourage active reforestation, ” he says.

First developed in 2005 as for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 11th conference, The Sustainable Forest Products Industry, Carbon and Climate Change: Key messages for policy-makers ( 567 kb), has been updated with today’s challenges in mind and aims to:

  • Inform climate change policy-makers (and other climate stakeholders) in North America, Brazil, Europe, Japan and South Africa about the key carbon and climate public policy challenges and opportunities facing the Sustainable Forest Products Industry.
  • Positively influence the international positions taken by key climate negotiators by making specific policy recommendations that will help the SFPI maximize its contribution to climate mitigation post-2012, when the Kyoto Protocol will expire.
  • The SFPI consists of leading international forestry and forest product companies with a shared commitment to sustainable development and balancing efforts between economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.

Responsible for around 50% of annual global forest, paper and packaging sales (US$ 178 billion, 2006) participating companies are: Aracruz, Grupo Portucel Soporcel, International Paper, MeadWestvaco, Metsäliitto Group, Mondi, Nippon Paper Group, Norske Skog, Oji Paper, Sappi, SCG Paper, Suzano Papel e Celulose, Stora Enso, and Weyerhaeuser. These companies are committed to maximizing their contribution to climate change mitigation by proactively managing their carbon profile.

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