Seventeen countries pledge in COP28 to use more sustainably harvested timber for construction purposes

Image: Josh Olalde/Unsplash

An announcement made at COP28 to increase the use of timber in construction purposes as a key decarbonisation strategy has been applauded by several organisations, including the International Sustainable Forestry Coalition (ISFC) and the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association.

The announcement was made at a COP Presidency event under the auspices of the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP) which is co-chaired by the United States Special Presidential Climate Envoy, John Kerry and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources for Ghana, Samuel Jinapor.

The announcement said:

“A coalition of 17 countries – Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Republic of Congo, Republic of Costa Rica, Republic of Fiji, Republic of Finland, Republic of France, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of Ghana, Japan, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Norway, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Kingdom of Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America – have endorsed the following statement:

“‘Recognizing that wood from sustainably managed forests provides climate solutions within the construction sector, we commit to, by 2030, advancing policies and approaches that support low carbon construction and increase the use of wood from sustainably managed forests in the built environment. Such policies and approaches will result in reduced GHG emissions, and an increase in stored carbon.'”

The convening chair of the ISFC, Dr David Brand, said: “The construction sector and the built environment account for more than a third of global emissions and it is critical that countries move quickly to lower carbon emissions and increase stored carbon by using far more timber in buildings.

“We also need to replace plastics with fibre based products and bring sustainably produced bio-based materials at scale into textiles and fuels and pharmaceutical production systems. We are pleased that the ISFC is specifically referenced in the supporting documentation for this announcement.”

Mark Ross, CEO of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, said: “Initiatives such as the ‘Building for Climate Change’ regulatory programme and ‘Lowest Carbon Building Procurement Policy’ are good starts, but more needs to be done by the [New Zealand] government such as recognition of the value gained in long-term carbon storage from the domestic manufacture of harvested wood products.

“As a country we have a lot to gain through supporting increased timber usage. It is essential that our new government now steps up and joins the global parties in committing to advancing policies and approaches that support low carbon construction.”

Launched in September 2023, the ISFC aims to advocate for the increasing the global provision of renewable materials in the context of a circular bioeconomy; supporting growth that is compatible with climate and nature recovery imperatives; embedding science-based principles in policy and incentives; and increasing benefits to rural and Indigenous Peoples.

New Zealand-based Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association focuses on promoting wood as the heart of a future zero-carbon economy.