Climate & Energy
The EU is fighting climate change through ambitious policies at home and close cooperation with international partners. It is already on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020, and has put forward a plan to further cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030. By 2050, Europe aims to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent.
1m³ of wood stores approximately 1 tonne of CO2. Using wood to make products is a means of extending its potential as a carbon sink.
A recent study commissioned by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) shows that the European forest-based sector provides integrated solutions to the global climate challenge on a very large scale that account for an overall and positive climate effect is estimated at -806 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually. The combination of Sequestration, Storage and Substitution (the 3S framework) means that the EU forest-based industries today make a positive climate contribution equivalent to 20% of all EU fossil emissions. The overall climate effect is calculated as a sum of:
- Sequestration – net sink (increased carbon storage) in forests (-406 Mt CO2e/yr) resp. forest products (-41 Mt CO2e/yr) for a total of -447 Mt CO2e/yr;
- Storage – fossil emissions caused in the forest sector value chain: +51 Mt CO2e/yr;
- Substitution – prevented fossil emissions by substituting fossil-based materials and fossil energy: industrial products -394; traditional energy -16; for a total of -410 Mt CO2e/yr.
In order to unlock the full potential of carbon storage in wood-based products, such as wood-based panels, and to enhance the use of wood in longer life cycle products while substituting other energy-intensive and fossil-based products, accurate carbon metrics are fundamental. According to a recent study from the Aalto University and the Finnish Environment Institute, shifting towards the use of wood as a building construction material could critically reduce the environmental impact of building construction: the study shows that a wooden building of 100 m2 has the potential to store 10 to 30 tons of carbon dioxide and that increasing the use of wood for construction in Europe could increase the carbon storage of buildings up to 420 million CO2 tons over the next 20 years.