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Association execs discuss how to account for carbon in wood products


June 2, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The international forestry and wood products industry is working on the details of a proposal to have the carbon in wood products recognized in international carbon accounting rules.

The international forestry and wood products industry is working on the details of a proposal to have the carbon in wood products recognized in international carbon accounting rules.

Details of how those rules might look and how to get them adopted at the United Nations climate change negotiations in Durban at the end of the year were major topics at a meeting of forest products association executives held in Montebello, Que., in late May.

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The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations’ (ICFPA) meeting was held in conjunction with the UN FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products. The FAO will soon complete a major report on the important role sustainable forestry will play in the creation of low-carbon economies.

David Rhodes, chief executive of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association, says New Zealand and Australia have been lobbying with considerable success at successive United Nations climate change negotiations to have better forestry rules included in whatever replaces Kyoto. Under the Kyoto Protocol which expires at the end of 2012, harvested logs are deemed to be converted to carbon dioxide at the moment of harvest – a rule that fails to recognize the carbon that is locked up in wood and paper products, often for many decades.

Rhodes, who is a member of both bodies, says forestry waste and tree crops grown specifically for fuel will be increasingly important sources of renewable energy. Indeed, renewable energy products have the potential to be a new income stream for the pulp and paper industry as it comes out of recession.

Following a roundtable meeting of forest industry CEOs from around the world, co-chair Brad Thorlakson said the wood processing industry was now more competitive and “significantly transformed” in the wake of the global economic downturn. There has also been increased globalization of trade, the emergence of new markets, and a movement toward greatly improved environmental performance. “These are key factors that have led to a return to strength of the industry’s core product lines of pulp, paper and lumber.”

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations’ (ICFPA) membership includes the trade associations of 43 countries. The global forest products industry contributes more than US$ 470 billion annually to global GDP and employs over 14 million people worldwide.


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