A popular argument among those who want Canada to ignore climate change and keep exploiting fossil fuels is: “But we have so many trees that our emissions must hardly matter! Maybe the world should pay us!”
The argument is deficient on several levels, not least because a tonne of carbon in a tree doesn’t negate a tonne of emissions from fossil fuel burning. The tree only holds the carbon while it is alive, whereas CO2 in the atmosphere will partly remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of thousands of years.
The argument also fails when our forests themselves become a cause of worsening climate change:
Hundreds of forest fires since early May have generated nearly 600m tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 88% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions from all sources in 2021, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) reported.
More than half of that carbon pollution went up in smoke in June alone.
If you think Canada should get extra permission to pollute because of our forests (questionable) then we also need to be responsible when those forests become net carbon sources.