By Jerry Schwartz
Senior Director, Energy & Environmental Policy
Across the value chain, the forest products industry plays a unique
role in the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2011,
U.S. forests and wood products captured and stored roughly 16
percent of all carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel consumption.
Additionally, AF&PA member companies’ use of recovered fiber
resulted in the avoided GHG emission of nearly 18 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents in 2013.
AF&PA members had set a previous GHG intensity reduction goal in 2002, focusing on the direct and indirect emissions intensity associated with their manufacturing facilities and seeking a 12 percent reduction. In 2006, our members reached that goal, six years ahead of schedule.
Now it appears that our members are on the verge of repeating that performance. In 2012, AF&PA members reduced their GHG intensity by 14.5 percent, very close to our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goal to reach a 15 percent reduction by 2020.
AF&PA members are achieving GHG emissions reductions in several ways. First, they use renewable biomass energy to run their mills—in 2012, on average, about 66 percent of the energy used at AF&PA member pulp and paper mills was generated from carbon-neutral biomass. Second, members continue to improve their purchased energy efficiency. Click here to learn more about our progress on our energy efficiency goal. Finally, members continue to pursue innovations in their manufacturing processes, including their energy consuming processes.
Based on past performance, I wouldn't be surprised if history repeats itself regarding early achievement of this goal.