World leaders have descended on Glasgow for COP26 and a huge number of events focused on reducing carbon emissions have been taking place both at the conference and also around the world.

All of this translates into an opportunity for timber’s embodied carbon benefits to be more widely recognised. Things are definitely progressing in that direction.

In our opinion columns this month, Wood for Good’s Sarah Virgo says the wood industries must continue to make the most of the recent buzz around wood.

She says considerations around embodied carbon combined with market pressure on the timber supply chain serve to remind us of the critical role that timber can play in the circular economy and potential of timber buildings in a net-zero future.

Additionally, in our news we report that newly-created Timber Development UK (TDUK) is bringing clarity to how to account for embodied carbon in timber construction with a newly released technical paper.

It is aimed at building designers, clients, and contractors when assessing the embodied carbon associated with buildings and other structures, as well as product manufacturers and suppliers in demonstrating the carbon impact of their products.

There is more. At COP26 the Tropical Timber Accord, developed in concert by the Timber Trade Federation, highlights that strong, inclusive legal frameworks are essential for the sustainable management of tropical forests and that this underpins all other climate policy ambitions.

“Global Forests need Global Governance” proposes a new governance approach for the global tropical forest sector based on national standards within an international framework. Crucially, it also proposes supporting an international secretariat to administer and oversee the development of this framework.

Also timed with COP26 in mind is James Latham’s new Carbon Calculator. After over 12 months of work, the Calculator is designed to give a combined score or rating for its products based on carbon footprint and “locked in” stored carbon (biogenic), thereby increasing visibility of carbon impacts and directing customers towards more sustainable products.

It has taken more than 12 months of work to produce and is seen by the company as a very important tool designed to give full transparency on the carbon impact side of its products and aid the wider appreciation and specification of wood’s benefits. As Lathams’ group head of marketing Stuart Devoil says, it’s not just CSR anymore but the carbon issue is becoming a commercial issue.

There will undoubtedly be increasing global focus on the carbon agenda in the months and years to come. Wood’s embodied carbon story is a narrative that needs to be front and centre of the debate.

Stephen Powney
Group Editor