Clean Technology Canada

Natura Canada says that the government is underestimating logging emissions

May 3, 2024
By Canadian Manufacturing

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In its 2024 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, released on May 2, Canada reportedly downplays the logging industry’s role in driving the climate crisis, according to Nature Canada.

Natura Canada says taht due to unbalanced methodologies, the government is erasing a significant proportion of the sector’s emissions from the ledger books.

Earlier this year, a peer-reviewed paper found that, between 2005 and 2021, the average annual net greenhouse gas emissions from logging were over 90 megatonnes (Mt) CO2e.

“Canada has once again hidden the significant climate impacts of logging,” said Michael Polanyi of Nature Canada. “The logging industry is clearcutting some of the world’s most carbon-rich forests and getting a pass from the government.”

In a positive step, Canada has retreated from the claim that forestry is a low-carbon sector. Instead of representing forestry as a small carbon sink, as it has in recent years, this year’s Inventory shows the net emissions from human activities in the managed forest were 24 megatones (Mt) in 2022, equivalent to half of the emissions from electricity generation in Canada.

“This updated figure only further illuminates the extreme variability in the government’s forest carbon accounting numbers,” said Jennifer Skene of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “This year’s Inventory further reinforces the need for transparency when it comes to this sector.”

This latest Inventory is the first since Canada’s Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development found, in a 2023 report, that “Environment and Climate Change was not transparent in its reporting on the effects that human activities on forest land have on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Numerous voices have echoed this concern, highlighting how the government’s methodology for determining anthropogenic versus natural emissions and removals creates an inherent bias that effectively erases the forestry sector’s significant carbon footprint. International scientists and environmental and health organizations have urged the government to transparently and accurately report on emissions attributable to logging, and last December, 29 Members of Parliament and Senators called on the government to “advance effective action to tackle climate change by committing to separately and transparently report GHG emissions attributable to logging.”

The government has given no indication that it is reconsidering its current reporting of natural removals. While Energy and Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada are embarking upon a joint review of its land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF) accounting, the Departments have explicitly limited the scope of this review to other issues.

“Canada’s accounting choices are actively working against its international commitments on forests and climate.” said Skene. “In its biased intermingling of natural removals with anthropogenic fluxes, the government is producing an inventory that, on logging, fails to guide effective policy decisions and, in fact, fuels harmful outcomes.”

“Solutions that foster sustainable economies and protect future generations are possible,” said Polanyi. “However, real solutions require accounting that itself is grounded in reality. The government needs to own up to the climate costs of current logging practices in order to deliver effective, meaningful change.”

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