Indicator: Forest industry carbon emissions

Energy use in the Canadian forest industry has steadily decreased over the last 10 years, while net greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents, or CO2e) have fallen at an even steeper rate.

  • The forest sector’s ability to generate its own electricity, largely from bioenergy, has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Bioenergy continues to increase its share of the energy mix, accounting for 56% of forest industry energy use in 2014, up from 49% in 2000 and 43% in 1990.
  • Between 2004 and 2014, the forest industry reduced energy use by 35% and GHG emissions by 49%.

Canada measures its national emission levels annually for all sectors and assesses how these compare with targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

The forest industry has achieved both reductions in energy use, through greater efficiencies, and reductions in GHG emissions, by changing the fuel mix. Decreased production and the decline of the pulp and paper industry have also contributed to the trend.

Fossil fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and total energy use
in Canada’s forest industry, 2004–2014
Graph displays (1) the total energy use of the forest industry in petajoules for each year between 2004 and 2014 and (2) the forest industry’s greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for each year between 2004 and 2014.
Graph data
Table displays (1) the total energy use of the forest industry in petajoules for each year between 2004 and 2014 and (2) the forest industry’s greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for each year between 2004 and 2014.
  Total energy use (petajoules) GHG emissions (million tonnes)
2004 999.46 27.72
2005 958.35 24.97
2006 877.12 22.34
2007 850.13 22.01
2008 751.81 18.75
2009 694.55 16.24
2010 676.11 15.62
2011 636.66 14.26
2012 620.71 13.41
2013 649.28 13.83
2014 652.50 14.16

Why is this indicator important?

  • Scientists agree that there is a strong link between climate change and activities that burn fossil fuels and emit carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other GHGs.
  • By monitoring the forest industry’s GHG emissions, we can assess how its emissions record has improved over time.

What is the outlook?

  • Technologies that reduce energy use and GHG emissions provide significant environmental benefits and reduce energy costs for manufacturers. Investments in these technologies are expected to continue.
  • Since overall reductions in GHG emissions will likely be tempered by increases in economic activity, GHG emissions and total energy use will likely continue to decline but at a slower rate.
Sources
Notes
  • Industrial Sector – Aggregated Industries:
    • Table 8: Pulp and Paper Secondary Energy Use and GHG Emissions
    • Table 15: Forestry Secondary Energy Use and GHG Emissions
  • Industrial Sector – Disaggregated Industries:
    • Table 28: Wood Products Industries Secondary Energy Use and GHG Emissions
    • Table 34: Converted Paper Products Industry Secondary Energy Use and GHG Emissions
  • The methodology for estimating the amount of primary energy attributed to wood and spent pulping liquor in the pulp and paper manufacturing sub-sector was updated in 2015, causing changes in the data series between 1995 and 2002. In addition, from 1990 to 2010, wood waste and spent pulping liquor were incorrectly included in other fuels when estimating electricity generation in the Report on Energy Supply and Demand in Canada. This has now been corrected for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 data points, but will not be corrected for years prior to those. These changes have directly affected the estimates for industrial energy use and electricity generation and indirectly affected the emissions estimates. The time series data for 2011–2013 may therefore not be completely consistent with data for earlier years.