Report Cites Emissions From Canadian Logging

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A new analysis of government data shows that industrial logging is one of Canada’s highest-emitting sectors, and that by ignoring logging’s emissions, Canada is heading to COP27 with a forest-sized gap in its climate plan.

That is the main finding of a new report, Lost in the Woods, which calculates for the first time, using the federal government data, the net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with logging in Canada.

The report, published this week by Nature Canada and the Natural Resources Defense Council, debunks the idea that industrial logging is carbon-neutral and exposes a gap in Canada’s climate plan.

The report demonstrates that logging is one of the highest-emitting sectors of the Canadian economy. In 2020, logging’s net emissions totalled 75 megatonnes of carbon dioxide, a figure on par with the emissions from all oil sands production in Canada, 81 megatonnes.

In other words, even accounting for carbon stored in long-lived wood products and absorbed by replanted trees, logging produced more than 10 percent of Canada’s total emissions in 2020, or the equivalent of all GHG emissions from the province of Quebec.

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Because the Lost in the Woods analysis relies solely on government data, the calculations are limited by flaws and omissions in the government’s own accounting and reporting. The government, for instance, does not include the carbon impact of “logging scars,” areas where, even decades following logging, the forest has failed to grow back.

Canada has action plans to reduce emissions from other high-emitting sectors, but has no such strategy for the logging industry.

The federal government does not report logging emissions in its annual GHG inventory. Instead, emissions data is scattered across government materials and buried under the reported carbon sequestered by older, greenhouse gas-absorbing forests the logging industry has never touched.