Sawmillers applaud Ministers Climate Change stand

9 January 2012

The Minister for Climate Change issues, Nick Smith has spoken from the United Nations conference in Cancun about the importance of having timber products included as part of the solution in cutting global carbon emissions

Brent Coffey, Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation says Mr Smith’s statement will bring some real cheer to New Zealand sawmillers.

“We thoroughly support the efforts the Minister is making in getting wood recognised as one of the real heroes in the fight against climate change.”

“For years we have been telling Government about the unique environmental credentials of wood.” Current climate change rules state that when a tree is felled the carbon stored is deemed to have returned to the atmosphere. Science states that if that tree is turned into wood products it will go on storing that carbon for decades to come and it is getting this fact recognized by the United Nations conference that New Zealand’s Minister for Climate Change is promoting.

“Building with wood actually removes carbon from the atmosphere. When you calculate the carbon stored in the wood and factor in saw milling’s energy efficient production methods, an average house built using timber weatherboard, frame, floor and windows removes around 20 tonnes of green house gas from the atmosphere. Build that same house but replace the wood with steel and concrete and the amount of carbon emitted is the same as driving a car eight times to London and back.” Under New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme the steel and concrete industries, due to their high pollution levels, get subsidised yet environmentally superior wood products do not and Mr Coffey says this is another anomaly the Minister should be looking to rectify.

“Wood products are something New Zealand does very well and having them recognised as an official store of carbon will greatly help the country meet its emission reduction targets.