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Results of the International Conference on Carbon Storage in Wood Products held on 1 September 2009 in Brussels

10 September 2009

Results of the International Conference on Carbon Storage in Wood Products held on 1 September 2009 in Brussels

the International Conference on Carbon Storage in Wood Products that took place on Tuesday 1 September 2009 in Brussels. The Conference was organised jointly by EPF, EOS and CEI-Bois in the context of the “Wood in Sustainable Development” process of the CEI-Bois Roadmap 2010. It gathered leading scientists on wood products and climate change, forestry and wood industry representatives from across the globe, with a focus on Europe. Among the more than 100 participants were some 20 EPF members.

The European woodworking industries urge the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to recognise the carbon storage potential of Harvested Wood Products (HWP) and include HWP in the next global climate agreement. Omission of HWP would be a major lost opportunity to reduce GHG emissions because:
• Wood products are carbon pools. They have an important role to play in enhancing the effectiveness of forest sinks, both by extending the period that CO2 captured by the forests is stored before being released back to atmosphere, and by encouraging increased forest growth. The HWP pool behaves as a sink when it expands.
• No other commonly used material requires so little energy to produce as wood. Trees capture CO2 from the air, combine it with water they take from the soil and produce the organic material, wood. Thanks to sunlight and photosynthesis, trees trap large amounts of CO2 and store it in wood.
• Not only is the production and processing of wood highly energy-efficient, giving wood products a low carbon footprint, but wood can often be used to substitute materials that require large amounts of energy to produce. In most cases the energy necessary for processing and transporting wood is much less than the energy stored by photosynthesis in the wood.
• Sustainably managed forests are more efficient carbon sinks than forests left to grow randomly. Younger trees, in vigorous growth, absorb more CO2 than mature trees, which will eventually die and rot, returning their store of carbon to the atmosphere. Harvesting trees at the optimum time from sustainably managed forests maximizes the carbon sequestration potential of the forest. In addition, converting timber into wood products stores the carbon throughout the entire product’s lifetime.
Every cubic metre of wood used as a substitute for other building materials, such as steel, aluminium, concrete or plastics, reduces CO2 emissions in the atmosphere by an average of 1,1 t CO2. If this is added to the 0,9 t of CO2 stored in wood, each cubic metre of wood saves a total of 2 t CO2.
The European woodworking industries propose the following new paragraph 22 of the Annex to Decision 16/CMP.1 on land use, land use change and forestry
“Carbon removed in wood and other biomass from forests accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol under articles 3, 6, and 12, should be accounted for on the basis of the 3 proposed accounting approaches (stock-change, production and atmospheric-flow).”
Although the impact of each of these approaches will differ by country, the mere use of an accounting scheme for HWP will allow Parties to benefit from the increased storage of carbon in HWP for achieving their green house gas emission reduction targets.
The European woodworking industries propose to participate actively in the work that lies ahead by making a contribution to the following two action fields:

1) The introduction of reliable data on HWP in the national GHG inventories  The representatives of the European WWI should contact national governments and offer their input by:
a) presenting the work done on HWP accounting, for use in the national inventory in addition to the forestry input;
b) offering to provide reliable data and to assist the government with analysing them statistically, and eventually using them in an accounting approach for HWP.
 Key players of the European WWI in this context are the national associations or - in the absence of an association - leading companies all over the EU 27.
2) The development of voluntary measures or instruments  A carbon credit system or a reduced VAT for wood-based products might be better than other options, such as taxes, but would preferably be part of a pan-European or even wider implementation to be successful as a stimulating measure for the increased use of wood and HWP.
 Proposed systems in this respect might already be discussed and further detailed now, and hence it is useful to look for available data via existing studies (LCA, EPD,…) complemented by survey input.
In conclusion, giving recognition to the carbon storage potential of Harvested Wood Products will encourage an increase in use which will contribute towards increasing the overall carbon sink offered by forests and wood productsthereby helping the Parties to reach the Kyoto Protocol targets.