Thank you, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee. I have provided copies of my remarks around the table if you need them. My opening remarks will be bilingual, so I'll be flipping back and forth from French to English if that's okay.
My name is Robert Larocque, and I am the senior vice-president of the Forest Products Association of Canada. I'm very pleased to be here today to represent the forest sector as part of your study on secondary supply chain products in the forestry sector in Canada.
The Forest Products Association of Canada offers a voice, in Canada and beyond, to Canadian lumber and pulp and paper producers on matters related to government, trade, the environment, and our topic of discussion today, the new supply chains in the forest products sector.
First, let me give you a quick snapshot of how important the forest products sector is to Canada's economy. It is a $67-billion industry that represents about 12% of Canada's manufacturing GDP. The industry is one of Canada's largest employers, operating in 600 forest-dependent communities from coast to coast. We directly employ about 230,000 Canadians across the country.
The sector is also important when it comes to the Canadian environment. As custodians of almost 10% of the world's forests, we take our responsibilities as environment stewards very seriously.
Canada has the most independently certified forests in the world, 166 million hectares, or about 43% of all the certified forests. In fact, repeated surveys of international customers have shown that the Canadian forest products industry has the best environmental reputation in the world.
Climate change is emerging as the signature issue of our time. Forest products companies have been ahead of the curve by aggressively reducing their carbon footprint and running more efficient mills. In fact, pulp and paper mills have cut greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 66% since 1990. That's an equivalent of nine million tonnes of CO2 per year. The sector also does not use coal, compared to our international competition, and barely any oil, less than 1%.
Following Canada's commitment under the Paris Agreement, the forest products industry pledged last May to remove 30 million tonnes a year of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That's about 13% of the government's emissions reduction target. We called this initiative the “30 by 30” climate change challenge. We are proud to be part of the solution, and there is no question the Canadian forest products industry is an environmental leader.
I would like to point out that the existing supply chains and traditional products, such as timber and pulp and paper, must be supported to safeguard the future of this sector. All the current efforts related to innovation, international trade, and infrastructure projects are appreciated and must continue, but new supply chains that would enable the sector to produce biofuels, biomaterials, and tall buildings, are within reach.
One of the key factors for a prosperous forest sector in the future is to ensure a sustainable, stable, and economic access to fibre from our Canadian forests. Climate change impacts, such as increased forest fires and pest infestation, have a significant impact on Canadians, on our communities, and on the forest industry.
We also believe that more can be done to make our forests more resilient and to ensure long-term sustainability. We must continue research of long-term potential climate change impacts such as modelling of forest fires and pest infestation, implement climate resilience solutions such as FireSmart communities, and work with our provincial counterparts to modify our forest management activities to allow for selecting and planting trees that are based on the changing climate conditions.
FPAC is currently working on setting up a multi-stakeholder federal and provincial committee to prepare recommendations and actions relating to climate change impacts, enhanced forest management, and policy barriers to a resilient forest.
In terms of mills, one of the new supply chains for the sector is the production of green electricity. The sector has invested billions of dollars in the 2000s, and more than 40 mills now generate green electricity from residues. According to a report by Natural Resources Canada, these investments have sustained more than 14,000 jobs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 543,000 tonnes, atmospheric emissions by about 15%, and the water used by mills by the equivalent of 4,000 Olympic-size pools.
While the sector will continue to generate green electricity from residues, new value chains will be created as the sector transforms to produce biofuels, bioproducts, and biomaterials. The sector started the transformation in recent years with more than $1 billion in projects and announcements.
Furthermore, in partnership with the agricultural sector, the sector recently proposed a biodesign supercluster to produce advanced biomaterials and low-carbon fuels with the objectives of establishing new bioeconomy value chains, accelerating disruptive technologies, sustaining rural economies, and improving the environment.
The cluster has established five-year targets of $6 billion in economic growth, 64,000 new direct and indirect jobs, and four million tonnes of GHG reductions.
Unfortunately, the biodesign supercluster was unsuccessful under the current superclusters initiative. However, the sector was very pleased that, at around the same time, a forest bioeconomy framework for Canada was announced by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. FPAC supports the ministers' four key pillars: communities and relationships; supply of forest resources and advanced bioproducts; demand for advanced bioproducts, i.e., creating new value chains; and continued support for innovation. These pillars are well aligned with the biodesign cluster and sector transformation. We look forward to working with the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers in the implementation of the framework.
The sector's road to full transition to a low-carbon economy will create a new secondary supply chain in the transportation sector. We will become a supplier of biofuels. In the energy sector, we may become a supplier of renewable natural gas. Regarding sustainable living, we have products used by Canadians in their day-to-day lives, like producing bioplastics, nano materials, and car parts, as well as new construction of tall wood buildings made of engineered wood and wood fibre insulation. However, to get there, we must work together.
Current policies and funding programs, such as Sustainable Development Technology Canada or the investments in forest industry transformation, IFIT, which are necessary, focus on capital investment for new technologies at the mills. Moving forward, it is crucial that we enhance or create new policies and funding programs for two key areas, which I'd like to focus on today. They are ensuring a sustainable and healthy forests for stable and economic access to biomass and accelerating access to new markets and value chains.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the governments, our communities, our academic and indigenous partners that have contributed to the initiation of our sector's transformation. With programs, such as IFIT and the recent clean growth program that was announced this week, the government's vision, through the bioeconomy framework and partners such as FPInnovations, we are moving toward a fully transformed sector. However, to really accelerate the transformation, capitalize on economic and job growth, and ensure environmental benefits, we all need to work together to ensure sustainable and healthy forests, maintain our current programs for the forest sector facilities, and accelerate access to new markets and value chains.
Thank you very much for your attention and I will be pleased to answer your questions.