Wood-based products deserve special recognition in climate treaty?

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Products that are made from wood store carbon dioxide that is bound by growing trees.  Wood-based products provide a climate-friendly alternative for building, interior decoration and packaging, for example. They can be recycled after use or burned to generate energy at the end of their lifecycle. This way, their material first serves as a carbon store and then act as a biological energy source alternative to fossil fuels.

A fact long known to the scientific community is that wood-based products act as a carbon store. It is also common knowledge that replacing wood for energy- and carbon-dioxide-intensive materials can yield substantial climate benefits.

However, international climate conventions have not yet granted wood-based products the special status they so richly deserve. The existing climate treaty only takes account of carbon dioxide that is bound in forests – this does not provide an incentive for climate-friendly action through increased utilisation of wood. Quite the contrary in fact: the existing climate treaty actually weakens the position of wood-based materials and provides both fossil fuels and non-renewable materials with an advantage.

Hopes are high that the climate negotiations in Copenhagen will alter this illogical arrangement, as the EU is demonstrating growing interest towards wood’s capacity to store carbon. Finnish climate negotiators are well-aware of the potential of wood-based products to curb climate change and they are continuing valuable work to promote this viewpoint.

Improving the climate status of wood-based products could turn out to be a uniting issue for the EU and the United States, as wood construction is very popular across the Atlantic Ocean. Straightforward progress that would enable the Copenhagen conference to make the necessary decisions is called for at the upcoming climate negotiations.

Granting wood special recognition as a climate-friendly material would be a free new way to curb climate change all over the world. This matter provides Finland – a diverse user of wood – with an opportunity to take the initiative and lead the way forward to a better future.