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Climate Change On The Agenda

A few weeks ago, Avrim Lazar circulated a letter setting out his position on climate change. It arrived just prior to the Copenhagen meetings, and he was commenting on the direction he felt that group...


December 1, 2009
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Topics
Cindy Macdonald Editor

A few weeks ago, Avrim Lazar circulated a letter setting out his position on climate change. It arrived just prior to the Copenhagen meetings, and he was commenting on the direction he felt that group should to take.

I posted the letter on pulpandpapercanada.com, but will also include a few of his comments below. By the time this magazine reaches readers, the Copenhagen gathering will be over. Nonetheless, I think Mr. Lazar’s comments, given his vast experience with environmental policy, are insightful and have merit. Mr. Lazar is currently the president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.

The bottom line is simple: you cannot address climate change with the kind of thinking that created it. Climate change is the result of our failure to see, acknowledge, and act on how things in this world are connected to each other; how our actions impact the environment; and how there is no safe haven from global environmental issues.

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So looking toward the Copenhagen process, this is what we need:

• Cumulative global targets and actions which are ambitious enough to seriously impact the climate. Gestures, pilot projects and half measures have been defended in the past as ways to get things going, and they have. But people need to believe that we are doing something effective if they are to buy into the cost of making real change.

• Far less emphasis on offsetting emissions and far more emphasis on the deep retooling needed to reduce them. We can’t hide the greenhouse gases under the bed — we need to stop emitting them.

• Controls and counting regimes that are based on total carbon footprint. The use of massive amounts of fossil fuel to support the production and use of bio-fuel in the U.S. is one example of what happens when you don’t measure total carbon footprint.

• Better integration of other environmental imperatives into the climate program. Biodiversity, air and water quality are severely impacted by climate change and in need of protection. Sacrificing them for carbon reasons is to repeat the mistakes of the past.

In a similar vein, in this issue, there’s an article about reducing carbon emissions from the forest products supply chain, as well as the cover story about Cascades’ environmentally conscious construction choices. These concrete examples, combined with the current climate change rhetoric, suggest we are headed into a new reality, where environmental performance becomes a determining factor in business success.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome John Simmons to Pulp & Paper Canada. John joins us as publisher while Eileen MacDonell is on maternity leave. He can be reached at 416-510-5142 or jsimmons@pulpandpapercanada.com.