How FAO helps greenwash the timber industry’s greenhouse gas emissions

Posted: 25 August 2010 in Carbon, FAO

My most recent article for the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin is now posted on chrislang.org. There was so much wrong with the report that the FAO commissioned, it was difficult to know where to start.

How FAO helps greenwash the timber industry’s greenhouse gas emissions

The FAO uses tax payers’ money to promote the timber and pulp and paper industries.

By Chris Lang. Published in WRM Bulletin 157, August 2010

Faced with greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the production chain, the timber industry has a choice. It could look at reducing emissions. Or it could attempt to greenwash its operations, in effect attempting to evade responsibility. Perhaps not surprisingly, given its record, the industry is opting for the latter.

Key to the scientific fraud behind the claim that the pulp and paper industry is “carbon neutral” is the fact that the industry uses waste material as energy. But, as Papyrus (one of the contributors to The Paper Planet) points out in a comment on Dead Tree Edition (about another study looking at the carbon footprint of paper):

The reason this study comes to the conclusion it does, and why kraft paper attempts to make an outrageous carbon-neutral claim, is because they are both ignoring the carbon emissions from harvesting forests pulp and burning of forests for energy (black liquor). See this October 2009 article in Science Magazine: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/326/5952/527

The claims that burning black liquor is “carbon-neutral” and benign are very dangerous and hinder us in achieving reliable Life Cycle Analysis, public policy and smart investment in the industry. It will ruin any credibility it may have as a “green” industry and consumers will continue to migrate elsewhere. And when this accounting error is inevitably corrected, the industry will have lost an incredible amount of time and money.

This is probably the #1 issue of 2010 for the industry to act to correct its course and follow the science.

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