Consultant report

Forest bioenergy and Canada’s Clean Fuels Standard: Potential carbon impacts

This report assesses the potential land use and climate impacts due to an increased demand of wood for bioenergy in Canada following the implementation of the expected Clean Fuels Standard and other climate mitigation initiatives linked to the Pan-Canadian Framework.

Canada is already slightly increasing its use of wood-based bioenergy without implementation of the Clean Fuels Standard. This policy could drive faster growth in the use of forest bioenergy. There are three main potential sources of additional wood for bioenergy: increased harvest of roundwood, increased use of sawmill residues, and increased use of harvest residues and salvage logs. This study finds that increased harvest of roundwood would have very negative impacts on climate, resulting in high greenhouse gas emissions in the near term. It finds that increased use of sawmill residues is not possible because this entire resource is already entirely utilized. Concerning the use of harvest residues, literature reports very large amounts potentially available for collection and use, as well as even higher amounts of salvage logs available from stands affected by natural disturbances. While the use of harvest residues for energy is likely to have better climate mitigation potential than harvesting additional roundwood for energy, there are still safeguards that should be implemented to avoid negative impacts.

Figure 6. Sankey diagram of wood biomass flows across Canada’s economy in 2015. Numbers are reported in Mm3 under bark solid wood equivalent basis.