Working forests in the US serve as natural climate change solution

Working forests are vital to fighting climate change and Sappi is well-positioned to make a difference.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13, which urges action to combat climate change and its impacts, is arguably the most relevant goal for Sappi.

The pulp and paper sector ranks third in the manufacturing sector for energy consumption, according to the US Energy Information Administration. At the same time, trees—with their natural ability to sequester and store carbon—are the primary raw material used for the manufacture of pulp and paper, and they are identified as playing a key role in addressing climate change. The vital role of trees was evident at the fall 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, where 141 leaders committed to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, as outlined in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.

The signatories noted “the critical and interdependent roles of forests … to help achieve a balance between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removal by sinks; to adapt to climate change; and to maintain other ecosystem services.” To say it is an exciting time to be in the wood products industry is an understatement.

Sappi is well-positioned to make a difference.

First, we continue to focus on reducing the energy intensity and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with our operations, as evidenced by two of our 2025 goals—to decrease specific total energy and specific GHG emissions—as well as by our commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative. Second, we source our wood from North American regions that are climate healthy.

The Forest Resources Association issues a carbon report for each state. In Maine, the forest carbon stocks have increased by 5 percent from 1990 to 2019, and in Minnesota by 8% over the same period.

The role of our forests in mitigating climate change is essential. However, that does not mean that forests should not be harvested. While forest preservation has a place, active forest management has a significant role to play—perhaps even more so in the face of climate change and the unique challenges that come with it, such as drought and pests, making forests even more vulnerable to significant devastation by wildfire.