Canada’s faulty forest carbon accounting laid bare 30Mar2020

Barry Saxifrage, writing in the National Observer, lays out the complicated way Canada reports forest carbon balances, and how that reporting has been changed in recent years to hide some inconvenient truths

Curved arrows represent biologically mediated flows of GHGs: the straight arrow, industrial emissions of GHGs; and the symbols at bottom right, long term sequestration of carbon in the oceans. Carbon dioxide is the most important GHG in relation to forestry.

In a remarkable, lengthy and well researched opinion piece, Barry Saxifrage lays out the complicated way Canada reports forest carbon balances, and how that reporting has been changed in recent years so that we can continue to “to use a big whack of forest carbon “offsets” to meet Canada’s 2030 climate target”.

He writes in the National Observer as “a climate reporter and National Observer’s resident chart geek [who] focuses on the data of climate change”. View: As Canada’s forests become carbon bombs, Ottawa pushes the crisis off the books
by Barry Saxifrage on, March 30, 2020.

In summary, the government’s own data shows that Canada’s managed forests, and the wood taken out of them each year, have become one of our country’s largest climate pollution sources. Logging now extracts vastly more carbon than is growing back — tipping our forests from weak CO2 sinks into massive CO2 emitters. Rather than taking responsibility for our actions that are driving this new threat, the government is trying to push it all off the books through “creative” accounting, generational burden shifting and fake “offsets” schemes.

It’s a disturbing story, one I had some inkling to, but the story had proved far too laden with bureaucratese for me to figure out. I have not seen any equivalent analysis to that provided by Barry S.

If his is a highly flawed analysis, then our federal government climate scientists and carbon modellers will, I expect, respond to it. If it isn’t, I suspect there will be silence or some guarded comments from those scientists that do not directly contradict the messaging of Big Forestry and the quasi-independent institutions that support Big Forestry such as FPInnovations. Based on their history, I am not expecting any original or immediate comments from climate change and carbon modelling experts in the NS bureaucracy. Big Forestry will do its best to discredit the author and his message if it gains any traction. Otherwise, they will be silent.

I can hope that either Barry Saxifrage is completely wrong, or I am wrong about how I expect our federal science bureaucrats and Big Forestry will respond.

A few of the related posts on NSFN

In 2020, strict standards and transparency are required for Nova Scotia’s forest chipping/bioenergy projects to be credible as “good for the environment” 11Feb2020
Posted on Feb 11, 2020

Islanders are asking the right questions about biomass heating 23Nov2019
Moving Beyond Lahey: can Nova Scotia participate in a “Global Deal for Nature”? 14Dec2019
Posted on Dec 14, 2019

Marcus Zwicker: Managed forests sequester more carbon than unmanaged forests
Posted on February 20, 2019

Climate Warming Warnings: time to be objective about forest bioenergy in Nova Scotia
Posted on October 9, 2018

Nova Scotia forests, forestry and GHGs 2: Who accounts for the EU’s emissions from bioenergy generated from imported chips?
Posted on July 27, 2018

Natural Resources Canada GHG Calculator confirms Nova Scotia forest bioenergy schemes are worse than coal
Post January 3, 2017

AND see: Greta: We must fight the climate crisis and pandemic simultaneously
By Adam Vaughan in New Scientist Daily Newsletter, Mar 30, 2020.
The world needs to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and climate change simultaneously, and guard against people who try to use the current crisis to delay action on cutting carbon emissions, Greta Thunberg has urged.

Also, this Covid-19 related example of Big Forestry messaging on climate change: Wood Pellet Association of Canada Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Mar 25, 2020), “The majority of Canadian wood pellets are exported to Europe and Asia to generate clean, renewable, low-carbon electricity in power plants…Our product is contributing to the fight against global warming because we have replaced dirty coal in power plants.”

Also view: NSFN: Climate Change>Forests, Silviculture & Climate Change

Tip of the Hat to Tree Frog Forestry News for Mar 30, 2020 for highlighting the article by Barry Saxifrage

shopify analytics ecommerce

This entry was posted in Climate Change, Show Us the Science. Bookmark the permalink.