Lord Deben: more timber construction and forestry planting needed to meet climate change targets30 January 2019
The UK Government will not meet its climate change targets without a significant increase in tree planting and far greater use of timber in construction.
That was the clear message from Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), when he addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF) on January 24.
He told the APPGF this was a time of enormous opportunity for forestry and wood, especially as more land traditionally used for agriculture would become unprofitable under likely post-Brexit changes to farm subsidies - but he warned the industry there was hard work ahead to seize the opportunities.
“There is a context where forestry is in a very strong position but the coda is this; ministers want to have industries which are united in what they ask for,” Lord Deben said.
“This is a crucial part of what the forestry industry has got to do and includes reaching out to the agricultural community.
“You have a real opportunity, you are right to be enthusiastic - but the Government is not good at finding answers in detail. It's the industry that provides answers but you have to convince the government that the whole industry will back [those ideas]. You have a really important job to deliver one voice, one programme, and get the government to take action.”
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, said the private sector was now speaking with a unified voice, but urged the Forestry Commission, with its huge role as regulator, grant provider and manager of the publicly owned forests, to work more closely with the private sector.
Mr Goodall also urged the environmental benefits of forestry to be fully appreciated. Earlier, Lord Deben had said that the UK could not meet statutory targets to reduce carbon emissions, which parliament has signed up to, without fundamental changes to land use - which meant much more forestry.
Taking carbon out of the atmosphere was crucial to moving towards the targets and trees were vital to delivering this, he added.
“We need to sequestrate carbon and we need a regime that allows people to invest in sequestrating carbon in a way that is not unprofitable,” he said.
“We need the structure to make it possible. (And) we need to get more wood into the building industry to lock up carbon.”