Wired UK has an interesting piece about the waste in the publishing business, The article makes some general statements about carbon emissions at the beginning of the article, and then goes into that actual meat of the article. The bit I have a problem with is:
Paper mills in Scandinavia and elsewhere may account for the vast majority of the carbon footprint generated by print media.
The paper mills in Scandinavia are primarily located in Sweden and Finland. They are using two major sources of energy to run their operations, electricity, which comes from the local power production and non-electric energy, like heat, which is primarily from biofuel, such as off-cuts, branches and bark from the trees use to make paper pulp.
The above sentence from the author of the article essentially reads like he didn’t have time to do the research behind that statement. So I thought I should help him with doing some of it for him.
Finland’s electricity supply was 57% renewables and 34% in 2004 (1), and Sweden’s electricity supply was 41% renewables and 58% nuclear in 2004 (2). In 2007 the Swedish renewable part of electricity production was closer to 44% and the fuel use for electricity production in Sweden is about 4% fossil fuels (3).
So essentially the paper mills in Sweden do not generate that many climate changing emissions, as they run on renewables and nuclear. How it is in other European countries where paper is produced at large scale I don’t know, but the Scandinavian part is probably not the main culprit in CO2 emissions. Not that we wouldn’t maybe be better off to skip paper publishing and distribution and use that wood made into paper as biofuel instead…
(1) Finland – Energy Mix Fact Sheet, European Commission (PDF)
(2) Sweden – Energy Mix Fact Sheet, European Commission (PDF)
(3) Energy in Sweden 2008 – Overhead pictures, Department of Energy, Sweden (PDF)