WASHINGTON – Canada’s ambitious climate goals are threatened by a “logging loophole” that allows industrial logging to clearcut the carbon-rich boreal forest, unleashing emissions neither adequately counted nor regulated under current law, according to a new analysis released today by Nature Canada, Environmental Defence Canada, and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The Logging Loophole: How the Logging Industry's Unregulated Climate Emissions Undermine Canada's Climate Goals” outlines significant policy gaps and actions the Canadian government should use to prevent industrial logging operations and carbon emissions from undercutting Canada’s climate leadership.
“Canada’s ‘logging loophole’ is allowing the logging industry to escape scrutiny over its massive toll on the climate-critical boreal forest. Even Canada’s fossil fuel industry has tighter regulations on its climate impact than industrial logging, which is accelerating climate change and hobbling one of the world’s greatest natural climate allies,” said Jennifer Skene, report author and lawyer with NRDC’s Canada Project.
The Canadian boreal’s carbon-dense soils, trees, mosses, and peat bogs give the forest a unique and globally significant value for the climate, as it stores nearly twice as much carbon than exists in all the world’s recoverable oil reserves, and nearly twice as much carbon per acre as the Amazon.
“Protecting our forests is as much a part of meeting our climate goals as regulating fossil fuels. But currently, the Canadian government is not adequately monitoring for the climate impacts of the logging industry, let alone putting in regulations and incentives that would minimize harm to the climate. If Canada wants to live up to our climate commitments, we must impose climate-friendlier standards on the logging industry,” said Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager for Environmental Defence Canada.
“Canada is positioned to lead on nature-based climate solutions that will safeguard our treasured wildlife and the global climate, but the logging industry is undermining these efforts. Canadians and the world need the government to take meaningful action to protect the climate value of its forests to secure a livable planet for future generations,” said Graham Saul, executive director of Nature Canada.
The groups called on the Canadian government to take the following steps to close the logging loophole:
- Fully account for the logging industry’s emissions
Canada has committed to net zero emissions by 2050, in alignment with international climate recommendations. However, by undercounting industrial logging’s emissions and exempting them from regulation, Canada could severely undermine this commitment. Accounting for industrial logging’s full impact is critically important for ensuring Canada can achieve its international climate goals.
- Regulate the logging industry’s emissions
The Canadian government should integrate logging emissions into its national carbon pricing program under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This regulation would provide incentives to both provincial governments and industry to adopt climate-friendly forest management practices that reduce impacts on the ecosystem’s stored carbon and improve regeneration.
- Protect remaining intact forests
Canada’s federal government has made a commitment to protect 30 percent of its lands and inland waters by 2030. With less than ten percent of the boreal forest’s carbon stores currently protected, Canada needs to make the protection of intact regions in its managed forests a central element of meeting these commitments. While Canada’s C$3 billion over 10 years to tree planting and forest restoration is important, tree planting does not by itself mitigate the damage done by clearcutting intact forests.
- Prioritize Indigenous-led land management
Strong Indigenous land rights are not only critical to Indigenous self-determination and empowerment but are also correlated with better protections for forest carbon and healthier forest ecosystems, including higher biodiversity. The Canadian government has taken positive, initial steps to support Indigenous leadership, including funding a pilot Indigenous Guardians Network and up to 6727 Indigenous-led protection initiatives. While this funding was significant, it is a fraction of what Indigenous communities need to safeguard their traditional territories and manage the remaining intact boreal forests.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
Over the past 80 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 110 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network comprised of over 100,000 supporters and engages a community of more than 900 nature organizations across the country. It is focused on effecting change on issues of national significance, including wilderness protection and endangered species, and encouraging people to embrace a culture of conservation in their everyday lives. Visit us at naturecanada.ca and follow us on Twitter @NatureCanada.
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.