The paper industry and climate change: Roll on the green revolution

TECHNOLOGY and greenery don’t mix well. Some greens are technophobes. Most environmental policies focus on prices, consumption and subsidies to solar and wind power, which are not at the cutting edge. The list of technological breakthroughs is short. One of the most promising is carbon capture and storage, which neutralises emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. A big project was being built at Mongstad in Norway—but the Norwegian government has just pulled the plug on it.All the more reason, then, to look with interest—and a measure of scepticism—at an effort by European pulp and paper companies to slash their emissions through technological change. This week they announced some ideas which, if adopted by the whole industry, would cut its energy use by at least a quarter and its output of CO2 by more than half by 2050. The ideas will test how far technology developed by companies can reduce global warming.Pulp and paper is a big energy consumer—the world’s fifth-largest industrial user. The World Resources Institute, a think-tank, put the industry’s CO2 emissions at about 500m tonnes worldwide in 2005. However, European companies are relatively…

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