The Government of Canada aims at reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 (compared to 2005) and reaching net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Several of the climate actions under development would incentivize an increased use of forest biomass for energy. However, lessons learned from bioenergy policies worldwide have shown that increasing the use of bioenergy can impact the forest sector as a whole and that the carbon impacts of bioenergy should be assessed holistically to limit unintended negative consequences. This study aims to summarize and present existing data in a manner that enables the Canadian government and stakeholders to identify bioenergy pathways that can contribute to Canada's decarbonization targets. Firstly, we synthetize existing statistical datasets on wood removals and uses into a holistic picture of wood flows across Canada's economy. We find that, in 2017, a minimum of 77.7 Mm3 of wood were used for energy in Canada, and that reported quantities of wood used exceeded the amount of wood removals by 14–33 Mm3 annually. Thus, while 72% of wood used for energy in 2017 derived from secondary industry residues, the origin of 26% of wood for energy cannot be identified, seriously hindering any consideration on the sustainability of the current forest bioenergy use in Canada. Secondly, we assess that the amount of wood used for energy might increase by 5.5–20.4 Mm3 by 2030. In order to identify the potential impacts of this extra bioenergy demand on GHG emissions, we reviewed relevant literature based on our qualitative analysis of the system dynamics of the forest sector in response to such an increased demand. Our results show that unless targeted measures are defined to stimulate the use of residues, it is possible that direct and indirect biogenic GHG emissions from increased use of forest bioenergy will undermine Canada's decarbonization goals. We recommend several measures to avoid this, including: discouraging the dedicated harvest of logs for bioenergy, prioritizing the collection and use of logging residues which are usually burned at roadside, and favoring the recovery and use of post-consumer wood. In addition, we recommend improving the consistency among statistical datasets on Canada's forestry sector.

A systems perspective analysis of an increased use of forest bioenergy in Canada: Potential carbon impacts and policy recommendations

Agostini A.
2021

Abstract

The Government of Canada aims at reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 (compared to 2005) and reaching net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Several of the climate actions under development would incentivize an increased use of forest biomass for energy. However, lessons learned from bioenergy policies worldwide have shown that increasing the use of bioenergy can impact the forest sector as a whole and that the carbon impacts of bioenergy should be assessed holistically to limit unintended negative consequences. This study aims to summarize and present existing data in a manner that enables the Canadian government and stakeholders to identify bioenergy pathways that can contribute to Canada's decarbonization targets. Firstly, we synthetize existing statistical datasets on wood removals and uses into a holistic picture of wood flows across Canada's economy. We find that, in 2017, a minimum of 77.7 Mm3 of wood were used for energy in Canada, and that reported quantities of wood used exceeded the amount of wood removals by 14–33 Mm3 annually. Thus, while 72% of wood used for energy in 2017 derived from secondary industry residues, the origin of 26% of wood for energy cannot be identified, seriously hindering any consideration on the sustainability of the current forest bioenergy use in Canada. Secondly, we assess that the amount of wood used for energy might increase by 5.5–20.4 Mm3 by 2030. In order to identify the potential impacts of this extra bioenergy demand on GHG emissions, we reviewed relevant literature based on our qualitative analysis of the system dynamics of the forest sector in response to such an increased demand. Our results show that unless targeted measures are defined to stimulate the use of residues, it is possible that direct and indirect biogenic GHG emissions from increased use of forest bioenergy will undermine Canada's decarbonization goals. We recommend several measures to avoid this, including: discouraging the dedicated harvest of logs for bioenergy, prioritizing the collection and use of logging residues which are usually burned at roadside, and favoring the recovery and use of post-consumer wood. In addition, we recommend improving the consistency among statistical datasets on Canada's forestry sector.
Carbon accounting
Forest bioenergy
Pan-Canadian Framework
Socio-ecological system
Sustainability governance
Wood resource balance
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12079/61527
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