The increased impact of human activity on the planet in our industrial age has led to the increased emission of carbon dioxide which many scientists now accept as the cause of global warming and ultimately, climate change. The challenge for business is to continue to grow our economy and improve our quality of life while reducing emissions.
The Australian Government has committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 60% of our year 2000 levels by 2050. As part of the government's strategy to achieve this,a carbon emissions trading scheme will be introduced in 2010. This will essentially be part of a global carbon market expected to be worth up to $2.4 trillion worldwide by the year 2012. Companies or other groups are issued emission permits and are required to hold an equivalent number of allowances (or credits) which represent the right to emit a specific amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. The total amount of allowances and credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that need to increase their emission allowance must buy credits from those who pollute less. The transfer of allowances is referred to as a trade. In effect, the buyer is paying a charge for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions by more than was needed. Thus, in theory, those that can easily reduce emissions most cheaply will do so, achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest possible cost to society.
Tasmania’s forests represent a huge bank of stored carbon. In future, they may provide us with an opportunity to benefit economically from their potential to sequester more carbon, but this will depend on the rules adopted nationally and internationally on the treatment of the forest sector in relation to climate change.
With 200,000 hectares of plantation under management and 45,000 hectares of native forest reserves, Gunns is well placed to make a positive contribution to the reduction of emissions.
Gunns estimates that it and its predecessor companies have grown over 200 million seedlings, to plant in its softwood and hardwood plantations in Tasmania since plantation development first began in the 1940s. This amount of plantation establishment is equivalent to the sequestration of 72 million CO2 equivalent tonnes each year when mature.
This is enough sequested CO2 to offset the emissions generated by 120,000 Australians over a period of 21 years.
Over the years we have planted 460 trees per person in Tasmania all of which act as carbon sinks. The carbon in wood remains "locked up" for life, even when our trees are made into wood, timber or paper products. And as we are continually planting and growing trees our sustainable, renewable resource will continue to store carbon for future generations.
Carbon accounting is the process that will be used to determine whether companies are reducing or increasing their allowable emissions under the carbon trading scheme. While rules and guidelines have not yet been fully established by regulators companies are already estimating how they will fare under this scheme. We at Gunns are confident that we will be carbon neutral at the very least and believe we will in fact be carbon positive. We have developed some indicators to show our Bell Bay Pulp Mill development will have a positive effect in reducing emissions for Tasmania.
Please refer to our
presentation on Carbon