Wood products reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester CO2. Increased use of engineered wood can considerably reduce carbon footprint and alleviate climate change. These facts need to be recognised, and the arguments forcefully made, to users, potential users, and to policymakers, says CEI-Bois.

CEI-Bois, the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, recently prepared a position paper on this issue.

We reproduce it here in the belief that it may assist those in the industry to persuade planners, architects and clients that engineered wood can and should be used much more, both in its traditional roles and to replace less sustainable and less carbon-friendly materials such as brick and concrete. Here then is the CEIBois view on the role of Harvested Wood Products in the post-2020 EU Climate Change Policy Framework.

The Woodworking Industries welcome the agreement made at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December

2015 and remind policy makers that the woodworking industries contribute to tackling climate change by storing carbon in Harvested Wood Products (HWP) and by substituting wood for non-renewable materials. The production and processing of wood is highly energy-efficient, giving wood products a low carbon footprint.

The Carbon-sink effect of HWP and the effects of material substitution for energy-intensive non-renewable and fossil materials are two fundamental and important aspects of using more wood.

Carbon storage in HWP, together with substitution for functionally- equivalent alternative non-renewable materials and products by wood and wood based products, offer a strong potential to lower Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, decrease the use of fossil fuels and increase carbon storage. Every cubic metre of wood used in buildings has captured almost one tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere. Moreover, every cubic metre of wood used as a substitute for other building materials reduces CO2 emissions by an average of one tonne. As a result, significant benefits in mitigation of climate change can be gained.

Opportunities for stimulating the use of wood products should be explored by EU member states as it will facilitate reducing CO2 emissions and achieving climate targets.

For instance, a mere 4% increase in the output of Europe’s Woodworking industries would store 150 million additional tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to 3% of European GHG emissions. Furthermore, 80,000 new jobs would be created and €2.35bn added to the EU economy. To make this become reality a strong policy support to the circular and bio-economies is needed.

The role of sustainable forestry calls for an holistic approach from EU policies which aim to tackle climate change and promote economic growth.

The woodworking industries are committed to source wood from forests that are managed following the ecological, economic and social principles of sustainability.

Sustainably managed European forests increase the growing stock and sequester 9% of European net GHG emissions. The long-term sequestration of CO2 into forests, and thus the mitigation of climate change, can be further increased by active and proper management of forests, as well as by appropriate afforestation measures.

The Woodworking Industries believe that the Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector can play an important role within the EU Climate Change Policy Framework.

Forests provide renewable raw material that is reusable and recyclable. Wood is used to produce a broad range of existing goods, as well as new and innovative products for daily living. The Woodworking Industries welcome the fact that in the Commission’s proposal LULUCF remains a separate pillar.

The Woodworking Industries also underline that the Paris-like 'bottom-up' approach is needed when defining the forest reference levels.

The reference levels need to be established by member EU states in accordance with the projected use of forest resources. The accounting has to reflect the actual forest growth and sequestration rates in the managed forests to avoid cases in which actual sinks are accounted as emission sources. The Woodworking Industries see that the Commission’s LULUCF proposal puts too much emphasis on forests as carbon sinks.

The increased use of HWP can substantially limit GHG emissions and enhance removals from the atmosphere. In this respect active forestry, wood mobilisation and, when locally feasible, the expansion of forest area, should be promoted.