Forests Are Our Greatest Climate Solution

By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on March 29, 2022

Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan is here – but where does it leave our forests?

On Tuesday, March 29, the Government of Canada released its 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan (ERP), announced as a “comprehensive roadmap” for greenhouse gas emission reductions. 

Community Forests International applauds the ambitious commitments to empower communities to take climate action, most notably through a new $180-million Indigenous Leadership Fund to support projects led by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities and organizations. We are encouraged to see this step towards uplifting Indigenous climate solutions at a national level.

However, the Government of Canada has missed a vital component in its investments for natural climate solutions: our forests. While committing to conserving, restoring, and enhancing other ecosystems, Canada makes underwhelming promises for forests. Without bold commitments and dedication to change, Canada’s forests will continue to be over-exploited, with detrimental effects for biodiversity and the climate. 

According to the Government of Canada’s own accounting, forestry activities in the country emitted 9.3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) into the atmosphere in 2019. This will come as a surprise to many Canadians who have been told that our managed forests are good for the climate. What’s more, research indicates that the situation could be far more damaging, indicating that “[the Government of Canada] continues to downplay annual logging emissions in Canada by more than 80 Mt CO2—or nearly 11 percent of Canada’s overall annual greenhouse gas footprint.” 

Canada’s managed forests remain one of the country’s largest sources of emissions. If collectively we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C – as urgently called for by the latest IPCC Report – Canada needs to fully account for the emissions caused by forestry, and then support practices and policies that result in net carbon storage in managed forests while continuing to support the diverse livelihoods and communities that depend on them. 

While we are disappointed by the continued lack of accurate forest emissions reporting and significant omission of Canada’s forests in the government’s Emission Reductions Plan, we remain more committed than ever to protecting and restoring the unique Wabanaki forests of eastern Canada. We know that Canada’s forests can be a global climate solution while benefiting the communities that live and work within them. It is abundantly clear that citizen and community-led action for climate forests is needed now more than ever before, and we are inspired by the regular people who are taking action and leading these transformations every day.