Forests could absorb 12 per cent of European emissions

10 December 2014

Paul has the lead letter in today's Financial Times.  In the letter Paul sets out the significant role that forests and wood can play in helping tackle climate change - creating new jobs in the process.  Exciting opportunities!

Dear Letters Editor

When it comes to tackling climate change there is no ‘silver bullet’ rather we need to deploy as many approaches as possible.  So there is a place for carbon emissions being “stored underground or offset by steps such as planting vast numbers of trees” (‘Climate proposals pose threat to Exxon and Shell’, Pilita Clark 8/12/2014).

Europe’s current forest cover at 42% of our land mass offsets 10% of the EU’s emissions, so increasing forest cover growth while adhering to ‘the right trees in the right place’ approach could mean forests offset 12% of European emissions over the next 10 years.

At the same time we should increase the use of wood both directly and indirectly.  Future house building should maximize the use of wood (embedded carbon) instead of energy intensive concrete or bricks.  Europe’s tallest wooden structure, a 14 storey block of flats, is currently being built in Bergen, Norway. 

Scientific advances mean that wood fibres can be used as reinforcement in artificial polymers or even serve as substitute for oil based fibres.

Statistics from the automotive industry in Europe show a continuous rise in consumption of natural cellulose based fibres over the last 15 years from 4,300 ton in 1996 to 80,000 ton in 2012.  By 2012, 38% of natural fibre composites used in the European automotive industry came from wood.

The EU-funded BioStruct Project concluded in 2012 highlighted innovative solutions based on wood-plastic composites known as enhanced wood-plastic composites (eWPCs) with potentially wide industrial application.

None of this will be possible without a beneficial impact on job creation hence a greener Europe will be a more prosperous Europe.

Paul Brannen MEP

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