Weyerhaeuser to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 40 Percent
Press release from the issuing company
FEDERAL WAY, Wash., June 21 -- In what amounts to a win-win for shareholders and the environment, Weyerhaeuser today pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2020 while reducing its reliance on high-priced fossil fuels.
A 40 percent reduction in annual greenhouse gases is the equivalent of taking 700,000 vehicles off the road for one year.
"We will do this by harnessing the benefits of a renewable, natural resource -- biomass -- as fuel in the boilers that generate steam and electrical energy in our mills," said Ernesta Ballard, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs.
According to Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, "What Weyerhaeuser has done is exemplary, and it deserves to be recognized. Not only is the reduction of 40 percent one of the largest in the private sector, it is global in scope. As important, Weyerhaeuser is doing this in a way that makes a permanent difference -- making changes in how their facilities operate."
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said: "Weyerhaeuser's pledge is a dramatic goal by any measure. This is a very real target from a company that has the ability to make a very big difference. Reducing emissions that contribute to climate change and the bottom line are both critical to every company, and Weyerhaeuser is showing that the two objectives are not mutually exclusive."
Biomass fuel consists of bark, lignin (the substance that binds wood fibers) and other organics in spent pulping chemicals. When biomass comes from sustainably managed forests, burning it has a neutral effect on greenhouse gas emissions. The regenerating forest absorbs the carbon dioxide released by burning the fuel. By contrast, the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuel is not offset.
Weyerhaeuser's pulp and paper mills already generate 72 percent of their energy from biomass. This new initiative will raise this percentage, further moderating the effects of volatile oil and gas prices. Pulp mills, in particular, have the potential to become energy self-sufficient.
In addition to substituting biomass fuel for fossil fuels, Weyerhaeuser will improve energy efficiency and install cleaner-burning boilers.
"This is a win-win for shareholders and the environment," says Ballard. "Shareholders benefit from lower energy costs, and the environment benefits from lower emissions of greenhouse gas."
The greenhouse gas reductions will be measured relative to Weyerhaeuser's emissions in 2000 and assume a comparable portfolio and regulations. Progress toward the commitment will be reported in the company's annual sustainability report.
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