Concerns about Canada’s forest carbon quantification and accounting

Petition: 463

Issue(s): Climate change; Governance; International cooperation; Natural resources

Petitioner(s): Canadian organizations

Petitioner location(s): Ottawa, Ontario; Québec, Quebec

Date received: 10 January 2022

Status: Completed - Response(s) to petition received

Summary: This petition raises concerns about how the federal government accounts for carbon emissions and removals from Canadian forests. It asserts that the government is using a flawed methodology to account for carbon emissions in the Canadian forest industry and is not capturing the full scope of emissions. In particular, the petition points to the federal government’s carbon measurement procedures related to wildfires. The petition asserts that wildfire emissions are under-reported, and that the federal government has an overly broad definition of what constitutes a “managed forest.” According to the petition, Canada’s current forest carbon measurement system leads to a massive overestimation of the total amount of carbon removed from the national greenhouse gas inventory.

The petition refers to the federal government’s approach to meeting Canada’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target, claiming that this approach allows the government to overestimate actual emission reductions. The petition seeks confirmation that the government is not bound to using its current “reference level” approach of accounting for forest carbon. The petition highlights that Canada could instead use the “net-net” accounting system. The petition asserts that the “net-net” approach is a carbon measurement procedure that more accurately reflects Canada’s contributions to meeting the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target.

The petition suggests that there is a conflict between Natural Resources Canada’s responsibility to measure the carbon impact of the forest industry for Canada’s greenhouse gas inventory and the department’s role of supporting and promoting the industry’s competitiveness. The petition asks whether the federal government agrees that the methodology used in Canada’s greenhouse gas inventory does not comply with the guidelines from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, particularly as they relate to the reporting of all emissions and removals from managed land.

In addition, according to the petition, mandatory carbon pricing currently exempts the logging industry and the omission of forest carbon from mandatory carbon pricing, creating an inappropriate incentive for logging and wood-burning. The petition requests an explanation behind this approach and asks whether the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will commit to making changes in the regulatory process that will create mandatory corporate-level reporting of forest carbon emissions and removals in addition to emissions from all wood products.

The petition also indicates Canada’s greenhouse gas inventory excludes emissions from small areas of tree cover loss, such as logging roads. The petition requests a detailed estimate of the annual emissions from these small areas and from areas where there have been instances of long-term forest cover loss. It questions whether the government will remedy this exclusion.

Finally, the petition asks whether Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada will form an expert stakeholder group to provide independent and regular scrutiny of forest carbon calculations and provide recommendations for Canada’s greenhouse gas inventory reporting. It asks whether the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will establish a process identifying the changes needed to address forest carbon concerns before the end of 2022.

Federal departments/organizations responsible for reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Natural Resources Canada