The Honourable Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Keynote Address to the 3rd Annual BIOFOR International Conference – Paperweek 2018


I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional lands of the Mohawk Nation.

Such recognition is an important reminder that the relationship we have with the land, air and water is sacred.  It’s sacred not least because we have inherited it from the generations that came before us.  Our responsibility is to pass this Earth on in better shape to the generations that will follow.

When we met last year, I spoke of the remarkable transformation of your industry — and of the exciting opportunities ahead of it.  Today, that transformation continues and the opportunities are greater than ever.

That said, we meet today under very different circumstances.  There’s no sugarcoating the fact that this has been a tough year.  Historic fires.  Devastating infestations.  And punitive protectionism from our largest trading partner on products from softwood lumber to newsprint.

Our government’s position has been clear and unequivocal: the U.S. duties are unfair and unwarranted.

We are vigorously defending Canadian workers by challenging the duties before the World Trade Organization and through the North American Free Trade Agreement.

We’ll continue to fight and we expect to win — as we have in the past.  But we also know that in the meantime, families and communities are hurting. 

When the duties were announced last year, our government stepped up with an $867-million Softwood Lumber Action Plan.  A plan that included loan guarantees for industry, access to work sharing programs for employees, funding to help provinces support workers, investments in forest innovation programs and access to programs that will help companies reach new markets.

But while the past year has brought pain, we have also seen promise.

It’s important to keep our eyes on that bigger picture. On an industry that is undergoing a historic transformation.  Diversifying product lines.  Lessening reliance on traditional markets.  Improving environmental performance.  And positioning into the low-carbon economy.

Your industry has been far ahead on all of these issues.  For years, you’ve understood that your long-term future lies in expanded products and markets.

You’ve seen the road ahead and charted a course to travel it. 

The result?  Forest-based bioproducts are now found in everything from plastic to paints, car parts to construction, cosmetics to chemicals.

And while Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions were rising between 1990 and 2012, pulp and paper mills were reducing their emissions by an impressive 66 percent.

That leadership continues.

In Masson-Angers, Quebec, Papier Masson is introducing a new process — the first of its kind in North America — that will extract densified fibre for wood-plastic composites in airplanes and car parts.   All while saving energy on their newsprint production.

In examples like this, the forest industry is showing us the future.

Through hard work and imagination, you’ve made your industry one of the most innovative parts of our economy.  Creating a new vision of what forest products can be.  Of what forestry can be.

My message to you today is that our government is with you every step of the way.  And we’ve demonstrated that again this past year.

Just 12 months ago, at this event, I promised to work with you to develop a national vision for the forest bioeconomy.  In September, as Chair of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, I was proud to deliver.

Through close collaboration with the provinces and territories, we endorsed a comprehensive approach with a clear goal: to make Canada a global leader in the use of sustainable biomass to transform our economy.

The Forest Bioeconomy Framework is built on four pillars:

First, communities and relationships — because communities are at the heart of the bioeconomy — offering exciting opportunities for jobs and growth.

Second, ensuring a predictable supply of biomass — because that’s what developers demand and investors need.

Third, generating demand for bioproducts — because it’s consumers that will drive this sustainable transformation.

And fourth, supporting innovation — because finding the solutions we need will come through imagination and ingenuity.

Our government is already implementing the Framework, by providing funding that will use forestry’s potential to decarbonize the economy as a whole while creating economic opportunities in rural and Indigenous communities.

In November, I was honoured to host the Bioenergy for the Future Week, which included launching the International Energy Agency’s Technology Roadmap to Delivering Sustainable Bioenergy as well as holding a meeting of Mission Innovation countries on the Sustainable Biofuels Challenge.

Today, anything you can make from a barrel of oil you can make from a tree.  In fact, biomass is the only renewable source that can substitute for the carbon from fossil fuels.

Which means as the world makes the transition to a low-carbon economy, bioproducts, biomaterials, biofuels and bioenergy will all play a critical role, providing important options — and viable alternatives — to fossil fuel-based products.

How big is this opportunity?  According to the OECD, by 2030, the bioeconomy could be a two to five trillion-dollar market globally.  Advanced bioproducts could contribute up to 35 percent of the world’s chemical and industrial products — and 80 percent of pharmaceuticals.

The International Energy Agency projects that biofuels could provide about 30 percent of all transportation fuels by 2050.

Think of what that means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  For transforming transportation.  For improving air quality. For creating jobs and more resilient communities.

Think of what that means for northern and remote communities, still dependent on diesel and propane for their electricity.

Canada is ideally placed to lead the bio revolution.

We have nine percent of the world’s forests. About 40 percent of the world’s certified managed forests.   In those forests are the world’s largest reserves of biomass.  In fact, Canada has more biomass per capita than any country in the world.

Bottom line?  This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and our government understands its importance.  We have made major commitments to the bioeconomy.  And we are following your lead to ensure that Canada is at its forefront.

Since we last met, our government has also launched a number of programs to deliver bio-based energy to rural and remote communities and increase the use of wood in construction, including tall wood buildings.

Over their lifetime, these programs will increase the consumption of wood in North America by $500 million, create 20 to 30 first-in-kind projects and provide good jobs in more than 170 forest-dependent communities.

More broadly, they will decrease reliance on diesel fuel, revolutionize building codes, improve industrial energy efficiency, invest in clean technology research and support Canada’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.

This year, our government provided $6 million to help eight different forest product associations promote Canadian wood products abroad. We also provided $21 million to FPInnovations for research and development.

We are making a concerted effort to strike deals and open doors — especially in China — where exports of our wood products have grown by more than 25 times since 2002.

The Prime Minister was in China in December — his second trip there in three years.   I was there in June, when I had the chance to tour a new eco-district in Tianjin — a $2.5-billion project featuring almost two square kilometres of Canadian lumber, ingenuity and expertise.

These kinds of projects show us the incredible opportunities to create good jobs at home by opening up markets abroad.

More broadly, our government has made generational investments of more than $1 billion over four years in clean technology and innovation, including in the natural resource sectors.

Just last month, my colleague Minister Hajdu joined our friends at FPInnovations and Resolute Forest Products, to announce $21 million for a TMP-Bio plant in Thunder Bay — a project that will help commercialize innovative bio-chemicals.

In November, we launched a new flagship initiative called the Clean Growth in the Natural Resources Sector Program. 

Its goal?  To advance emerging technologies toward commercialization.

The program provides $47 million for the forest sector with a priority on improving the environmental performance of the industry and developing advanced materials and bioproducts.

There's more: our government is continuing to support your industry directly, through programs such as the Transformative Technologies Program, FPInnovations and the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program (IFIT).

These programs are working well — bringing innovative, first-in-kind technologies from R&D, to pilot, to commercialization — at a pace we’ve never seen before. 

This past year, we provided $55 million to extend the IFIT program and $60 million to extend the Forest Innovation Program.

Today, an industry that has written so much of Canadian history is creating an exciting new future.  A story whose best chapters are still to come.

I look forward to working with all of you as we write those chapters together.

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