Climate change is now a serious issue. Each week sobering new studies underline the need to take action. It was surprising then to see media coverage of the recent meeting of UN’s climate change representatives in Bali at times bordering on the farcical.

Admittedly there were dramatic moments as the 187 governments met to agree the successor to the Kyoto protocol. These included: a US U-turn on emission reduction, through-the-night debates, disagreement that delayed the meeting’s close and even a diplomat in tears.

But if we step away from the headlines, in the detail we find some promising facts for the timber industry. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up to give objective data on climate change, released its fourth Assessment Report and one of its groups examined how forestry and buildings can mitigate it. Timber was mentioned in a positive light in both places.

In terms of forestry, the IPCC recommends reducing deforestation and more effective management of timber stocks to increase the amount of carbon stored in wood. It also wants the increased use and substitution of wood products “to store carbon for anything from days (biofuels) to centuries (houses)”. The report says that switching to wood-framed construction can result in significant emissions reductions.

The same study explores the trade-off between embodied energy and energy in use – something the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management’s free building materials carbon calculator also addresses. It emphasises a life cycle approach to material selection and highlights that choosing materials that require “small amounts of energy to produce (such as wood products) will reduce the amount of energy embodied in buildings”.

These statements send a clear message to governments that coincide with wood for good’s new communications strategy on wood’s role in helping to mitigate climate change. Over the coming months, we will be summarising the information we’ve acquired on the benefits of using wood and making it available to the industry. The emphasis will be on making the information easy to use, authoritative and consistent.