30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Reducing Canada’s Kyoto deficit
Canadians might be surprised that forest fires can produce five times as much greenhouse gas as the One Tonne Challenge aims to save (“Forest fires could nullify Kyoto Efforts”, A7, 05/03/04).
They would be amazed to learn that Canada’s accounting of greenhouse gases for Kyoto assumes that “industrial roundwood” from Canada’s forest harvest is figuratively burned adding over 150 million tonnes annually to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Details of the calculations are available in Annex 6 of “Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990- 2002” at www.ec.gc.ca.
In reality, industrial roundwood is turned into lumber and built into our growing stock of buildings or exported. Its carbon content is kept from the atmosphere for as long as the wood remains intact, or processed to contain its carbon content. Harvesting allows new trees to grow and could be the basis to create a sustainable means of continually removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
A change of accounting procedure could reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to some 150 million tonnes per year. The responsibility for controlling carbon dioxide emissions from exported wood products would be turned over to the importing countries where it belongs.
Forest accounting methods are discussed at page 165, of Annex 6. The authors believe alternate accounting approaches “provide a more accurate reflection of when and where emissions and removals actually occur”.
A parliamentary committee is currently studying Canada’s implementation of Kyoto. I submitted a brief requesting that forest and greenhouse gas inventory experts be invited to appear before the Committee to explain how Canada’s accounting approach might be changed. Canada needs all the help it can get to reduce its Kyoto greenhouse gas deficit of some 300 million tonnes annually starting in 2008.