Canadian Logging Industry Carbon Emissions On Par With Tar Sands Operations:

Groundbreaking Report Debunks the Myth that Logging is Carbon-Neutral

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A paradigm-shifting report shows that carbon emissions from industrial logging in Canada are on par with those of Canada’s tar sands operations. According to Lost in the Woods: Canada's Hidden Logging Emissions are Equivalent to those from Oil Sands Operations, a Nature Canada and Natural Resources Defense Council report released today, logging is one of Canada’s highest net greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting sectors.

“Logging is often, erroneously, portrayed by governments and industry as a carbon-neutral sector,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “This report clearly shows that claim to be false. The reality is that logging is a high-emissions sector whose climate impacts are being ignored.”

The report calculates, for the first time, the net GHG emissions associated with logging in Canada using published and unpublished 2020 government data. It shows that, even using the government’s own numbers, which are likely to be conservative, the net GHG emissions from logging in 2020 were 75 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) – roughly equal to emissions from Canada’s oil sands operations. 

“Canada and the world can’t afford to continue ignoring the logging industry’s devastating climate toll,” said Anthony Swift, Director of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Canada Project. “Lost in the Woods starkly illustrates that Canada can’t meet its climate targets unless it addresses logging emissions alongside those of the fossil fuel sectors. Canada’s global standing on forests and climate depends on it.”

The Government of Canada does not transparently report emissions from the logging industry in its annual national GHG inventory. Nor does the government’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan include a strategy for reducing logging emissions, leaving a significant hole in Canada’s plan to address its climate impact. While Canada has committed to cut GHG emissions by at least 40% from 2005 levels by 2030, meeting this target will require the government to integrate the logging industry, as one of Canada’s highest-emitting sectors, into this strategy, and take action to reduce logging’s emissions. 

Michael Polanyi of Nature Canada and Jennifer Skene of NRDC are available for interviews or a technical briefing.

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 and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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