Canadian Biomass Magazine

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Editorial: A low-carbon economy

Opportunities abound in the fight against climate change


November 1, 2019
By Ellen Cools
Ellen Cools

“School strike for climate.” In August 2018, Greta Thunberg began protesting for stronger action on global warming, holding up a sign in Swedish with those words written on it. That sign and her actions have sparked an international movement, with millions of people participating in climate strikes in cities across the world, including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Climate change is obviously not a new issue. But people are paying more attention to it than ever before, including government officials. It is one of the main issues in the upcoming federal election, with multiple parties pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a low-carbon economy.

This presents potential opportunities for our industry. In fact, the theme of this year’s annual Wood Pellet Association of Canada Conference and AGM, which took place in Ottawa from Sept. 21-23, was leading Canada’s low-carbon economy.

In her opening remarks at the conference, Beth MacNeil, assistant deputy minister with the Canadian Forest Service, said, “Forests will continue to play an important role in our future as we transition to a low-carbon economy…The fact that so many of you are here to discuss challenges and opportunities in bioeconomy shows the commitment of the wood pellet sector.”

The federal government has supported pellet producers’ efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy through several programs, such as the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program, added Jeff Waring, director general of the Trade Economics and Industry Branch, Canadian Forest Service. Read more about the conference here.

Support through the IFIT program also helped Barrette-Chapais sawmill build a new 210,000 tonne pellet plant, Granule 777, in Quebec. The plant, which opened in September, is one of Canada’s largest industrial pellet plants. Yann Sellin, Granule 777’s general manager, explains how the plant will help Barrette-Chapais sawmill maintain their 450 employees and recover residuals from the mill, as well as the challenges they overcame in building a new plant in such a harsh climate.

It’s not just pellet producers who are supporting a low-carbon economy. There are several new bioheat projects that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Biothermic Renewable Energy Systems recently began operating Ontario’s first wood fuel facility for processing and storing wood chips, and the impact wood chips can have on building Canada’s renewable energy sector.

It’s clear that Canada’s growing bioeconomy has a large role to play in the fight against climate change. Stories like these make me optimistic about the future, and I look forward to sharing more in upcoming issues of the magazine.