Integrity Over Misinformation

 

In recent days, a blogpost appeared on the website of the anti-forestry group called Stand.earth, formerly known as ForestEthics. The post was signed by several other marginal activist groups and styled grandiosely as an “open letter to Fortune 500 companies.” In reality, it is simply a rehash of the same distortions and misinformation about forestry practices that certain irresponsible groups routinely push as part of their fundraising business model. As a principled and ethical organization and a recognized global sustainability leader, Resolute believes it has a duty to confront false and misleading claims about our company and our stewardship of the forests, and that’s why we are setting the record straight here.  

Canada’s boreal forest is thriving.

Over the last 25 years, Canada’s forest area has been very stable.[1] The annual deforestation rate has consistently been less than 0.02% since 2010, and the rate has been declining for 25 years.[2] Less than 0.5% of the boreal forest is harvested each year, and the rate of damage caused by insects, fire and disease exceeds harvesting by a factor of 10.[3] And 100% of harvested areas in Canada are regenerated – it’s the law.[4] Canadians can be proud of our vast, thriving boreal forest.

Canada is a leader in sustainable forestry.

Canada’s forests are among the world’s best regulated and managed, thanks to world-class and internationally recognized forest management policies.[5] Canada also leads the world in sustainable forest management certification. About 10% of the world’s forests are certified, and 37% of the world's certified forests are in Canada.[6] Avoiding forest products from Canada increases the risk of illegal logging and deforestation because demand for forest products would be filled by other countries where forest management standards are far less stringent.[7]

Resolute is a responsible forest manager.

The long-term future of our company and the boreal communities in which we operate depends on the responsible management of the natural resources in our care. Resolute has been repeatedly recognized as a global sustainability leader and a responsible forest steward.[8] In fact, for the last two years, we received a score of “A-“ for our forests disclosures to CDP, a globally recognized disclosure system enabling investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. The score, which is the highest achieved in this category by any company in North America, places Resolute at the Leadership Level, and is reflective of our company’s environmental best practices and the actions we have taken to manage environmental risk and to implement monitoring programs.[9]

Resolute is taking decisive action on climate change.

In 2011, Resolute committed to some of the most ambitious carbon reduction goals in the industry – a 65% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over 2000 levels by 2015. We exceeded our goal and, as of the end of 2018, achieved an 81% reduction. We have also completely eliminated the use of coal on-site, and 74% of our energy needs come from renewable sources.[10] That’s not “undermining efforts to fight climate change,” as Stand.earth falsely claims. In fact, we are at the forefront of those efforts. 

Sustainable forestry helps fight climate change.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes responsible forest management as a method to improve carbon capture.[11] In the last 25 years, Canada’s managed forests have been a net carbon sink, while unmanaged forests have largely been a source of emissions due to natural disturbances like fires, insects and disease.[12] Indeed, the federal government’s latest State of Canada’s Forests report shows that Canada’s managed forests continue to be a carbon sink, removing 20 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in 2016.[13]

We have a responsibility to set the record straight.

Free speech does not protect libel and slander. In order to hold Stand.earth accountable for its egregious behavior, Resolute ultimately included it in a U.S. court action. The group obfuscates this fact by dismissing the lawsuits against it and its partners as “intimidation tactics,” when in fact Stand.earth is named in our lawsuit due to the irresponsible and radical tactics it embraces.

For years, Stand.earth worked with Greenpeace and other groups to promote misleading accusations about our company, threaten our customers and harm boreal communities. Time and again, we attempted to resolve these misleading activist campaigns through open discussion to no avail. Finally, we took our case to court where a judge and jury could decide on the legality of the conduct of groups like Greenpeace and Stand.earth.

As soon as we forced them to back up their claims, they changed their tune. After years of claiming Resolute “destroyed forests,” for instance, Greenpeace admitted in court filings that these accusations were “figurative rather than literal,” “rhetorical hyperbole” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion.”

Stand.earth’s letter misrepresents the current status of the pending litigation by omitting key facts that complicate its victim narrative – which is no surprise given its history. Stand.earth says that a California judge “threw out” lawsuits against them, when in fact they were removed from the U.S. action because the vast majority of their speech and conduct was outside the statute of limitations. That’s hardly a vindication. Cases against Stand.earth’s ally Greenpeace are still underway in the U.S. and Canada. In January 2019, the judge in the U.S. proceedings recognized the merit of some of our claims against Greenpeace and its allies. Although the judge did not allow all of our claims to proceed, the case does move forward on defamation and unfair competition. Greenpeace entities, including Greenpeace International, as well as individuals remain named parties. Greenpeace, recognizing they were being called out for the bread and butter of their work, desperately pleaded to have the case dismissed. The effort was unsuccessful. 

Both cases, in the U.S. and Canada, are now proceeding with discovery. As these cases progress, we will continue to inform the public about legal developments while confronting misleading claims.  

Resolute has not stood alone in expressing concerns about activist misinformation. Thousands of stakeholders who live in and depend upon the boreal forest – from First Nations communities to union leaders to municipal officials – have urged these activist organizations to halt their attacks on our responsible forestry practices, only to be ignored. Numerous credible outlets that have also investigated our dispute with Greenpeace and its allies – from The Wall Street Journal[14] and The Washington Post[15] to the National Post[16] and The Globe and Mail[17] – have raised questions concerning the group’s mischaracterization of the facts, its questionable tactics, its underlying motivations, or all of the above.

Companies that respond to misinformation campaigns with a strategy of appeasement may hope that the activists will simply relent and move on to their next targets. Our company has chosen a different path. We have drawn a line in the sand and will defend our integrity. We owe this duty to all our stakeholders – especially our employees, our customers and the citizens of the communities where we live and work.