After COP28, the UK Government aims to boost its efforts to reach net zero
by increasing its use of timber.
After the events and discussions that took place at COP28, the UK Government, under the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Forestry Commission, have decided to announce a roadmap, titled the ‘The Timber in Construction Roadmap’, for increasing the use of timber within the construction and building sector. To lower greenhouse gas emissions further the UK are putting plans in place to increase its domestic supply of timber to meet the new expected need.
Currently, 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions comes from the built environment. By increasing the use of timber and reducing the amount of concrete used, these emissions should significantly lower. This will help the UK to work towards its target of net zero by 2050, after those attending COP28 were warned that more needed to be done to lower the world’s emissions.
Research has shown that large buildings that are constructed out of timber, instead of concrete, can store up to 400% more carbon. This means that less carbon is released into the atmosphere, which will lower the carbon footprint of the construction and building sector significantly if timber becomes a prime building material.
Rebecca Pow MP, the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Nature), stated:
“Investing in timber is investing in growth and levelling up. The built
environment is responsible for a huge proportion of UK carbon emissions, and
using home-grown timber in construction is key to reducing emissions.
Promoting the use of timber as a building material is a key part of the
government’s Net Zero Strategy. It will innovate the economy, play a role in
creating green jobs and also help meet our tree-planting targets.”
Due to the discussions at COP28, the UK Government believe that by increasing their domestic supply of timber they will have a better chance of reaching net zero, as a large proportion of the carbon emissions released will be stored in the timber used within the construction and building sectors.
It does appear however that the UK Government will have a large amount of work to do to make this increase in domestic supply, and their pledge at COP28, a reality. Currently, 80% of the timber that we use within the UK is exported from elsewhere.
There are other benefits of increasing the UK’s domestic timber supply, as it is an opportunity for the UK to increase its number of green skilled jobs, whilst also allowing those within the UK workforce the opportunity to gain green skills. This possible influx of jobs should see increases in success and in the reduction of emissions in the construction and building sector, as well as the forestry sector and the wood processing sector.
Richard Stanford, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission stated that:
“If we are to achieve net zero we must produce more timber through home
grown trees and lock up carbon using the timber in our buildings. We need to
boost productive forestry in England to support timber security and reduce our
over reliance on imports at the same time as tackling our nature crisis by improving biodiversity, improving water quality, and giving people access to green spaces.
We look forward to working closely with partners across the timber, forestry,
and construction industries in this hugely important area of our work for
years to come.”
The forestry and wood processing sectors already contribute around £2 billion into the UK’s economy. Therefore, increasing the UK’s domestic supply also has the potential to boost economic growth. Benefitting the UK economically, whilst lowering emissions as pledged at COP28.
There are seven main actions within the plan, including:
- Boost the capacity, competency, and skills throughout the supply chain
- Collaborate with lenders, warranty providers, and insurers
- Improving timber and whole life carbon data
- In order to expand the use of engineered mass timber, fire safety checks need to be considered and addressed
- Increase sustainable timber supplies
- Promote the use of successful timber construction systems
- Promoting timber as a material for construction