Catching the green deal wave

28 January 2020

European woodworking industries must work together to support and capitalise on development of a new low environmental impact economic model, says Patrizio Antonicoli, secretary-general of the European Woodworking Industries Confederation – CEI Bois

Europe experienced a lively 2019. We had the election of a new European Parliament and establishment of a new European Commission. We also saw a UK election setting the country firmly on a path to leave the EU.

Critically, 2019 also saw new EC president, Ursula von der Leyen, present her Green Deal; “…a new growth strategy to transform the EU into a modern, resource efficient, competitive economy, with no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use”.

The EC acknowledges that the Green Deal’s ambition demands all sectors play a role and “will not be achieved by Europe acting alone”. That means the woodworking industries shouldering their responsibility and, we trust, the continued vital input of the UK into the environmental development of a wider Europe – including in the timber sector via the UK Timber Trade Federation’s membership of CEI-Bois.

As an industry we have much to do to transition to the era of the Green Deal and its environmental imperatives. But CEI-Bois has developed three key assets to underpin the process.

The CEI-Bois Manifesto for the EU term 2019-2024 illustrates how the European woodworking industry can help the EU reach key goals, such as reduction of GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and the deployment of a circular bioeconomy, while ensuring jobs creation and employment stability. The programme focuses on six priorities; Wood Availability and Sustainability, Circular Bioeconomy, Competitiveness of Wood in Construction, Free but Fair Trade, Research and Innovation and Industrial Relations & Social Affairs.

Second, the Wood. Building the Bioeconomy booklet shows how Europe can reduce emissions by using low carbon, renewable alternatives, such as timber, over high carbon materials, such as concrete, steel and plastic.

It demonstrates that this would be good not only for the climate but economically. According to the EC, a 1% increase in use of European wood-based products in global construction, textile and plastics markets could generate revenue of €10-€60bn.

With this publication, our sector calls on politicians to put wood at the centre of emission reduction and zero carbon strategies and recognise it as a model product for transition towards a circular economy.

Finally the Forest-Based Industries vision 2050 focuses on how forest-based solutions can help achieve five ambitious targets:

  • To decarbonise Europe by 2050 by substituting CO2-intensive raw materials and fossil energy with forest-based alternatives
  • Eradicate waste in the circular economy, with a sector target of 90% material collection and 70% recycling
  • Drive resource-efficiency in the F-BI value chain by enhancing productivity
  • Meet demand for raw materials by maximising new secondary streams and ensuring primary raw material supply from sustainably managed forests
  • Satisfy growing demand for climate-friendly products by increasing use of wood.

We see our sector becoming the most competitive, sustainable provider of net-zero carbon solutions through research, break-through technologies, increased recycling and reuse. Together the European woodworking industries can ride the Green Deal wave. 

Patrizio Antonicoli