Securing carbon sinks

Metsä Group is already an important carbon sink. Metsä Group’s strategic goals for sustainable development by 2030 are based on our desire to mitigate climate change.

Growing Forest is an important carbon sink

The goal of international climate policy is to reduce global warming emissions. In this context, forests are referred to as carbon sinks. When trees contact, they take in carbon dioxide from the air and store it as carbon for themselves. A forest carbon sink means that more carbon dioxide is bound in the forest than is released into the atmosphere.

Finnish forests are a carbon sink because forest growth sequesters more carbon than is released due to forest use and natural depletion. Active forest management has increased the carbon sink of Finnish forests, because the forests are on average younger and better growing than before, and on the other hand, there are carbon stocks, because there is more wood in the forests than even a hundred years ago.

We can contribute to tackling climate change in two ways: 

  • By ensuring that forests grow more than they are used 
  • By reducing the amount of fossil-based carbon emissions from our industrial operations and increasing the amount of products that bind carbon for a long time 

According to our estimation, Metsä Group’s operations already result in more carbon being bound than being emitted. We are working to ensure that this development continues in the right direction.  

Metsä Group is already at current state a significant carbon sink 

The situation in 2019: carbon sequestration in cooperative owners’ forests continues to increase, production already low in carbon emissions

The state of the forests of our owners – that is, of the members of the cooperative – is excellent, with record growth. Throughout Finland, forests are growing more in volumes than they are being harvestedAccording to our experts, the forests of the cooperative’s owner-members bind an average of 26 million tonnes of a carbon a year. The use of wood reduces this carbon accumulation by 18 million tonnes, so that the amount of carbon that remains sequestered in the forests of the cooperative owners is 8 million tonnes a year. 

Our production being largely based on renewable energy and the use of our products as replacements for fossil-based commodities are also important factors with regard to the carbon balance. Ninety per cent of the fuels used in our production processes already come from wood-based side streams, so the share of fossil-based carbon dioxide emissions in production is relatively small. The total amount of fossil CO2 emissions from our production, wood supply and logistics is currently 1.5 million tonnes a year. 

Products that bind carbon for a long time, such as plywood, Kerto LVL products and sawn timber, are important carbon sinks. Together they bind about 2 million tonnes of carbon annually. At present, the amount of carbon bound by our products exceeds the total amount of fossil-based emissions generated by production and the logistics chain by 0.5 million tonnes a year. 

In other words, Metsä Group is already an important carbon sink. All in all, forests, production and products annually sequester about 8.5 million tonnes of carbon. 

Scenario 2030: cooperative owners’ forests are increasingly important carbon sinks, zero fossil-based carbon emissions from production 

Metsä Group has set strategic sustainability goals to be met by 2030. We are focusing on increasing the amount of carbon that is sequestered in forests and in our products, on making our production processes free of fossil-based resources, and on ensuring responsibility throughout the supply chain. 

Metsä Group’s carbon sink grows significantly when sustainability objectives are met 

Our goal is to increase the area covered by forest management services by 30 per cent by 2030. Sustainable forest management supports better forest growth. We estimate that forest growth will increase by 10 per cent by 2030, which means that 29 million tonnes of carbon will be sequestered every year. 

Wood use is also expected to increase by 10 per cent by 2030. The use of wood relative to forest growth remains unchanged, i.e. it is still within the limits of sustainable use. Thanks to better growth, the amount of carbon being left in forests is increasing, and is estimated to reach 9 million tonnes by 2030. 

Metsä Group’s goal is to reduce its own fossil-based CO2 emissions to zero by 2030. The share of wood procurement and logistics is growing somewhat, with estimated total emissions of 1 million tonnes per year. The amount of our products that bind carbon for a long time is increasing, thereby increasing the annual amount of carbon bound to 3 million tonnes. The amount of carbon the products bind exceeds the total amount of fossil-based emissions generated by production and the logistics chain by 2 million tonnes. 

It is estimated that the total annual amount of carbon sequestered by Metsä Group’s operations will have risen to 11 million tonnes by 2030. At present, the total amount is 8.5 million tonnes a year. According to our estimates, through effective forest management and our planned investments, we will succeed in increasing the amount of carbon sequestration by 30 per cent by 2030.