The Swedish forest products industry causes huge climate impact

Professor Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson explains in a Swedish video that the forest products industry each year raises the carbon content in the atmosphere by 128 MtCO2, compared to the total emissions of 51 MtCO2 from all citizens and all other Swedish industries.

The figures below are taken from this diagram from Professor Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson's lecture.

Swedish forests sequester 175 MtCO2 every year.

The trees that are felled every year contain 125 MtCO2.

Of these felled trees

- boards and timber contain 12 MtCO2

- roots contain 31 MtCO2

- and the rest (branches, leaves, bark) contains 82 MtCO2, and some of this wood biomass is made into short-lived products such as pulp, paper and biofuels. Most of these products soon end up burnt, and the rest of the residues that fall to the forest floor decompose soon after felling.

Of the trees, only boards and timber, and roots remain as they are for many years, i.e. 43 MtCO2. So the remaining 82 MtCO2 is emitted into the atmosphere very soon after felling.

But the felled trees were sequestering CO2 before they were felled and would have continued to do this if they had not been felled. Professor Jonsson assesses that they would have bound and kept 46 MtCO2 each year, but now they are no longer doing this. This amount has to be added to the equation to assess the total environmental impact.

In summary the Swedish forest products industry raises the carbon content of the atmosphere each year by 82 + 46 MtCO2 = 128 MtCO2.

Compare this to the total emissions from fossil fuels (from all industries and citizens) that Sweden reports to the EU and UN, namely 51 MtCO2 each year.

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