Climate change

By reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and scaling up nature-based solutions, we´re increasingly part of the solution to climate change. This FAQ explains how.

What are the main causes of climate change?

The sixth assessment report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2021 confirms that we are already seeing the consequences of 1.1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, amongst others.

The report projects that in the coming decades, climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans.

Does Sappi support the TCFD?

Yes we do. In recent years, we have been assessing our resilience to the physical risk and transitional risks and opportunities of climate change as framed by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Does climate change impact forests and plantations?

Climate change can stress forests through higher mean annual temperatures, altered precipitation patterns and more frequent extreme weather conditions which could exacerbate many of the threats forests and plantations face, such as pest outbreaks, fires, water scarcity and drought.

How do trees mitigate climate change?

Climate change is exacerbated by the presence of too many greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, a part of the carbon cycle, trees and other plants use water and sunlight to convert CO2 into carbohydrates to provide energy and the building blocks for growth. The process releases oxygen as a by-product. The carbon removed from the atmosphere is effectively stored in plant material and wood. In other words, trees act as carbon sinks.

What is carbon sequestration?

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and accumulating carbon within the system. To be classified as a significant service, the carbon store should be increasing. To maximise carbon sequestration, it makes sense to harvest mature trees and replant them, perpetuating the sequestration process. The forests where we source our woodfibre in Europe and North America are managed sustainably; regrowth and afforestation exceeds the rate at which woodfibre is extracted. In South Africa, our commercial plantations remain productive, even when we harvest the crop. The trees we harvest are generally replanted within a few months to perpetuate the carbon sequestration process.