The impact that the forest-based industry has on the climate is not just about the carbon that the forest sequesters and stores, but also about the decrease in fossil emissions that occurs when the forest’s products replace fossil alternatives like oil and coal.
To calculate the forest sector’s climate effect, we need to add together the binding of carbon that occurs in the forest with the decrease in fossil emissions that occurs when the forest’s products replace fossil-based alternatives such as concrete, steel, plastic or oil. From that sun, the fossil emissions that occur in the value chain are deducted. These emissions occur because of, for example, the use of harvesters, transportation of forest material and finished products, and industrial processes.
A significant contribution
The total positive climate effect of the Swedish forest industry was 94 million tonnes CO2e, when calculated using 2020’s numbers. This is more than twice as high as Sweden’s reported total emissions for that same year. It works like this:
- Every year, the industry converts roughly 70 million cubic metres of wood into wood products, fibre-based products and renewable energy. Through substitution, this reduces fossil usage by 52 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents every year (CO2e/year).
- Additionally, the carbon stored in the forest is continuously added to, primarily through the rising number of trees. This translates to 46 million tonnes CO2e/year.
- The forest industry’s own fossil emissions amount to 4 million tonnes CO2e/year.
The forest industry combines profitability, sustainability and climate benefit. Thanks to long-term investments and stable political conditions for the last 100 years, the forest’s growth and volume of standing timber has doubled, while the forest industry has also grown significantly. The market for forest-based products and the private actors in the sector has been of great importance in doubling the carbon sink in the forest, while at the same time reducing fossil usage on a large scale.