On November 22 during Raw Materials Week, North Sweden European Office organized two forest seminars to highlight Swedish forestry's role in EU climate work. Participants from the European Commission, the European Parliament, forest organizations, and Swedish regional offices gathered to participate in the policy-oriented seminars about an active forest management in Sweden and its role in contributing to the EU 2015 climate target.
Session 1: The role of the forest in climate change
The European Commission's vision for the forest-based industry
Simon Kay, the European Commission's expert from the Directorate-General for Environmental Policy, DG CLIMA, gave an introductory speech on the topic "Land Use and Finance for Innovation". Kay began by presenting DG CLIMA's current work to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, as well as what initiatives and opportunities exist to reach the goal. In this connection, he also presented how the European Commission believes that the forest-based industry contributes to the work on the EU's climate targets. This includes a variety of industries and industries, including the bioenergy sector, manufacturers of wood products, pulp, and fiber-based industries. The European Commission believes that the forest-based industry can help replace carbon dioxide-heavy raw materials and fossil fuels with forest-based alternatives. With more reuse and recycling of forest-based products, the EU Commission also believes it is a crucial part of the EU's climate change. In line with the increased focus on the circular economy, the European Commission also wants to increase productivity and resource efficiency in the forest-based industry. In addition, Kay presented "The European Green Deal" which will contain the first European Climate Act. The launch of "The European Green Deal" will take place within 100 days of the accession of the new European Commission. Kay believed that it would include, among other things, an expansion of the emissions trading system, major climate-related investments, and what is now called the Just Transition Fund, a fund that is intended to ensure a fair climate change. According to Kay, the challenges facing the European Commission are now about creating a political framework for these complex issues. In addition, there are uncertainties regarding, for example, an expansion of the emissions trading system.
The role of active Swedish forestry in climate work
Nils-Olov Lindfors, the regional council in Norrbotten, spoke about the importance of active forestry from a Northern European perspective with a special focus on Norrbotten. He emphasized that the discourse at the EU level should make clearer growth in the forest and not just forest conservation. According to Lindfors, this is crucial to achieving the greatest climate benefit and the goal of climate neutrality in 2050. Although we are currently harvesting more forests than ever, Swedish forest is also growing more than ever and it is important that we support this development, Lindfors said.
Perspectives from European forest owners
Meri Siljama, Policy Advisor at the Confederation of European Forest Owners, CEPF, described the role of the forest from a forest owner's perspective in the EU. She highlighted the problem of the role of forest owners in the EU's taxonomy of sustainable investments in forestry. The formulations regarding what is classified as sustainable forestry or not may affect who wish to invest in the forest in the future. As forestry takes place in boreal forests in different ways compared to, for example, forests and rainforests, it is important that the different conditions are highlighted in the new regulations. On North Sweden's website, you can read more about the role of forest owners in the EU's taxonomy.
Session 2: The Emerging Bioeconomy
Forest-based bioeconomy as a tool in the transition to climate neutrality - Showcase from Region Värmland.
Per Aspengren, a member of the Regional Development Committee in Region Värmland showed in his speech good examples of how Region Värmland works with active forestry and how it has a positive impact on the region's sustainable development.
Future opportunities and unused biomass resources in northern Sweden
Magnus Matisons, project manager at BioFuel Region, concluded the morning seminar with a speech on the variation that exists in the forest industry. Matisons pointed out that it is never possible to analyze the forest from a single place or a single log. Taking care of the forest as a whole reduces the risk of incorrect conclusions. Matisons also stressed the importance of knowing that the young and growing forest is the most climate-friendly forest. The reason is that a growing forest through photosynthesis binds more carbon dioxide than old forests.
The forest's multifaceted role in climate work
The day continued at Västra Götaland's Brussels office with an external analysis by Magnus Matisons from Biofuel Region. The analysis aimed to shed light on forestry in general, but especially in relation to the EU's climate goals. During the external analysis, Matisons talked about how crucial the increased sustainable use of forest biomass is for Sweden to be able to achieve its national climate and energy targets. In addition, an increased and more efficient use of forest biomass benefits the business community in northern Sweden. At the same time, Matisons also highlighted the strong opinions that exist about whether the forest should be used or preserved. He said that the preservation of forests does not necessarily promote the climate, as the old forest gradually reduced carbon dioxide. Instead, the Biofuel Region wants the forest's capacity to be at the center of the debate instead of the number of forests that are currently often highlighted as climate-enhancing.
The forest also has a role to play in the construction sector's climate change adaptation, Matisons told. Large parts of these emissions are linked to the building materials used in building structures. Replacing the concrete with wood would significantly reduce the building industry's carbon footprint during the production phase. The carbon is also stored longer as a building material than as a forest.
- It is a lighter material that speeds up the building process, which we can see several examples of in Umeå. This would also mean that we instead store the carbon in the body of society, Matisons said.
Furthermore, Matisons also pointed out the risks of talking and raising bioeconomy as the most sustainable solution. This is because it risks creating too much pressure on natural resources linked to bioeconomy. Instead, it is about achieving a balance between renewable alternatives. At the same time, he felt that the Swedish climate discourse needed to talk more about bioeconomy. Today, solar, wind, and hydropower are the sustainable alternatives that are mainly highlighted.
- Wind power only exists when it suits the wind, the forest raw materials in the bioeconomy are when it is needed most and where it is needed best, Matisons said.
Finally, Matisons developed around the debate on biodiversity where he thinks it is important to keep in mind that the opportunities and challenges of Swedish boreal forests cannot be equated with, for example, the conditions that rainforest and forests have. The boreal forest species are often more adaptive than the specialized species found in rainforests.
North Sweden thanks all participants who contributed during the day with regional and global perspectives in interesting discussions about the role of forestry in climate work.
For more information contact:
Senior Adviser European Affairs
North Sweden European Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
/ Linnea Andersson & Isak Sidestam
Check out the speakers' presentations below:
Invitation and program to the forest seminars