Every now and then I’m asked whether climate change is an opportunity or a threat for UPM. It is self-evident that global warming with unpredictable effects is a big challenge for mankind and that we need to monitor and control industrial development. It is equally self-evident that the only way to reach remarkable results is to mobilise as many nations as possible. Otherwise we don’t have any chance of reaching the targets. This is the main objective of the United Nations conference on climate change (COP21) in Paris.
But what exactly is the impact of climate change and policies on UPM’s strategy and operations?
Combating climate change creates business opportunities for the pioneering companies that are able to produce sustainable products. At the same time, climate change policies can require extra investments that do not necessarily promote the desired emission reductions or that are not equal for all. In terms of the negotiation results, creating global policies and setting the same requirements for all is essential to ensure fair competition.
UPM uses renewable wood as a raw material, which is then further processed into different bio-based products. These products are often re-useable and recyclable. At the same time, we are passionately developing new wood-based materials and products that can replace fossil-oil-based ones. We believe that, as the global demand for natural resources grows, renewable resources are increasingly preferred over fossil-based resources. Unlike fossil-based resources, the sustainable use of renewable resources adds no new CO2 into the atmosphere.
Each and every one of us as a consumer can also mitigate the effects of climate change. We can, by our own choices, affect how successful new products are on the markets. Through conscious choices, consumers can create demand for sustainable and climate-friendly products.
For example, to mitigate the effects of climate change by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from traffic, UPM has developed a renewable diesel, UPM BioVerno, out of a residue from UPM’s own pulp production process. UPM BioVerno is suitable for all diesel engines and its greenhouse gas emissions are 80% lower than those of fossil-based diesel fuel. Another great example of the results achieved by our R&D teams are wood-based chemicals that can replace chemicals with a fossil origin.
An opportunity or a threat? My conclusion is that climate change mitigation offers business opportunities for responsible forerunners — especially when the policies are equal and fair and aimed at real global action to decrease emissions.
Stefan Sundman’s blog post is originally published in Finnish on “Lastuja” blog by the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.