Our working forests contribute to climate change solutions
WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?
Climate change has the potential to cause enormous disruptions in our world, affecting everything from how we do business to the well-being of our team and communities to the health of ecosystems around the planet. As global temperatures climb, changes in surface temperature and precipitation trends are leading to the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, wildfires and a loss of biodiversity. Sea level rise, rising ocean temperatures and changes to standard growing conditions present challenges to our coastal communities and forests around the world. Risks to society, including threats to food security, water supply and economic growth, are also increasingly likely and severe.
As the steward of millions of acres of sustainably managed forests in the United States and Canada, and one of the largest producers of wood products in the world, we believe we are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution to the global challenge of climate change — and to help address the risks this crisis poses to our people, our operations and the communities where we live and work.
Our role in addressing climate change is multifaceted, starting with drastically reducing our CO2 emissions and producing low-carbon energy sources and materials. But our most significant contribution comes through providing immediate and long-term solutions to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. As they grow, all the trees in our millions of acres of forests naturally sequester CO2 and store it as solid carbon. Every wood product we produce, or that our customers make from our logs, then stores much of that carbon for the life of the homes and buildings those finished products are used to build. After harvest, we replant new trees (or in some situations, we make sure the forest is regenerated naturally) to begin the cycle again. Every year, our growing landscape of trees absorbs more carbon than we harvest. It’s part of a continuous and ever-increasing equation of carbon sequestration and storage on the landscape and in our products, and it makes working forests a powerful, far-reaching and cost-effective tool to help limit the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
As one of the world’s largest private forest landowners, we recognize our added responsibility to manage our forests well in the face of climate change, and we work to ensure they stay healthy and productive and continue to act as a natural climate solution. We also know that climate change is projected to more severely affect communities that are already vulnerable, and we are committed to leveraging our sustainable working forests and our influence as a company to deliver equitable, climate-smart solutions that benefit everyone.
WHAT DO WE WANT TO ACHIEVE BY 2030?
By 2030, we envision a world where the value of working forests and the products that come from them are fully recognized as one of the key solutions for slowing and reducing the impacts of climate change. Through our research, stewardship and industry leadership, we endeavor to be a model for how working forests can and should be part of a sustainable, biodiverse and climate-resilient solution — today and long into the future.
WHERE ARE WE FOCUSED FOR PHASE 2?
While there is much we can accomplish over a decade, we have structured our long-term goals into three-year phases to effectively prioritize and accelerate progress. Our first phase was completed in 2022 and was marked by clear progress we will build on and momentum we will carry forward. During the second phase of our 3 by 30 Sustainability Ambitions, between 2023 and 2025, we are focusing our work in two key areas:
Improving the understanding of working forests and wood products as a climate solution
For working forests and wood products to effectively contribute to climate change mitigation, we need broader public awareness and understanding of their unique benefits as a mechanism for carbon sequestration, carbon storage and climate resiliency.
We have three key objectives within this focus area:
1. Prove that working forests and wood products are critical to fulfilling net-zero targets
Actions include: annual progress toward achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets; continued engagement with the development of GHG protocol standards; and co-leading the second phase of World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s forest sector net-zero roadmap.
2. Provide natural climate solutions
Actions include: growing our Natural Climate Solutions business, including forest carbon credits, carbon capture and sequestration, renewable energy development and mitigation banking.
3. Position working forest and wood products as contributors to climate change solutions
Actions include: representing the forest sector in global climate coalitions; and advocating to incorporate working forests and wood products into policy and law as climate solutions.
Demonstrating that working forests are climate resilient
Forests are complex ecosystems, and the potential impacts of climate change on forest health and productivity are constantly evolving. Understanding and incorporating climate-related risks and opportunities into our business decisions will be vital to ensuring our working forests will remain a climate solution — and model that success — for generations to come.
Actions include: ensuring the trees we grow are adapted to a changing climate; developing climate-smart decision tools; preparing our forest infrastructure for climate-related events; and deploying climate-informed disaster response plans.
PHASE 2 ACCOMPLISHMENTS
During the second phase of our 3 by 30 Ambitions, we are intentionally making fewer, but more strategic, investments of our time and resources. We will share our accomplishments and baseline measures in this space semi-annually.
FOUNDATIONAL SUCCESSES FROM PHASE 1 (2020 – 2022)
In the first phase of our work to achieve our 3 by 30 Ambitions, we laid the groundwork for meaningful progress toward our goals. We accomplished over 90 percent of the action items we set out to achieve in the climate ambition; remaining actions were rolled into Phase 2.
We set an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target that was approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative as in line with limiting warming to 1.5C, and we expanded our greenhouse gas inventory to include Scope 3 (value chain) emissions.
We completed the first external assurance of our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions inventory and data.
Implement carbon-accounting and target-setting practices for our company and share our results with others
In 2022, we joined The Climate Pledge and committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 — 10 years ahead of the goals of the Paris Agreement. This commitment means we intend to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis; implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations (including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions and other carbon-emission elimination strategies); and neutralize any remaining emissions with additional quantifiable, real, permanent and socially beneficial offsets (or removals) to achieve net-zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.
Participated in the development of key carbon accounting standards to ensure proper recognition of working forests and wood products.
We secured a key seat at the table in the technical working group responsible for drafting the GHG Protocol on Land Use and Removals Guidance. We piloted the guidance and have collaborated closely with other sector leaders to identify opportunities to improve the guidance and confirm the role of forest-based solutions, including in both the forest and wood products.
We participated in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Forest Sector Net-Zero Roadmap, which received global recognition at COP26.
We helped launch the Forest to Frame Carbon Alliance, a sector-wide initiative to build transparency and credibility in forests and wood products.
Ensured Weyerhaeuser is set up to adapt and respond to the expected impacts from climate change.
The launch of Weyerhaeuser’s Natural Climate Solutions business is a clear example of strong alignment with our business strategy. While the NCS business moves closer to registering our first carbon credit project on our lands in Maine, we will work to maintain and build the credibility of forest carbon credits as a key part of achieving net-zero standards and climate goals.
The Timberlands Strategy and Technology organization developed a comprehensive Climate Science Prospectus and is integrating key activities to prepare for current and future climate-related business disruptors.
We actively participated in the process to update SFI® standards, which added climate considerations to the Forest Management standard, to ensure the new standard is responding to the increasing threat posed by climate change.