30 Fairmont Park Lane S
The dispute between Canada and the United States on softwood lumber sidelines the interests of most Canadians and Americans. (“Retaliation not way to fix lumber dispute: U.S. envoy”, 05/09/02, A8)
It is a hard act to follow. The US has been telling Canada our timber resources are undervalued and that stumpage fees paid to governments in Canada should be increased. Canada insists this is not so. The US then applies a duty to protect their lumber industry. Canadians are outraged that the US is interfering with Canada’s affairs. Canada’s governments and lumber industry stay bent on selling off our timber resources at the lowest possible price. I’m certainly bamboozled by this. I’m not alone.
It’s hard to imagine there could be a new point to add to this everlasting discussion. There is. Wood is produced from water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide by our forests. One thousand board feet of softwood lumber contains about 1/2 tonne of carbon representing the absorption of nearly two tonnes of carbon dioxide from earth's atmosphere. This carbon dioxide absorption is acquiring monetary value in the brave new world of the Kyoto accord. Canada’s current approach to Kyoto gives away some 40 million tonnes of potential carbon dioxide credits in lumber exports to the US every year.
Perhaps going back to the bargaining table with this point would bring fresh perspective to Canada and the US on climate policy and technology development, and the value of forest resources.