Back the COP26 timber beacon

30 September 2021


The UK timber industry has an unparalleled opportunity at COP26 to persuade decision makers that using wood is key to combating the climate crisis. But, says Keith Fryer of Fort Builders Merchant, a project to make timber’s case to the climate conference needs funding

In 1985, the Live Aid concert transfixed the world. It was the culmination of the incredible vision Bob Geldof created and ultimately raised US$127m – in today’s terms that’s nearer US$320m.

It was an amazing achievement that put the plight of African famine victims right into the cross hairs. We all engaged and tens of thousands of lives were transformed.

In 2021, the timber industry is having a mini boom. Sales and prices are off the chart. Profitability and cash fl ow is spectacularly good. However, we all know that this is cyclical; things will change and ultimately the most important thing is to keep promoting wood, so decision makers recognise it as the best building material available. We must take advantage of our new found fortune and invest some of it in making timber’s case to the world.

The COP26 Climate Change Conference takes place in Glasgow this November; that’s just weeks away. It’s a brilliant opportunity for the timber industry to promote itself. No competing materials can go in and take our place – we’re in pole position! This will be the nerve centre for people looking for solutions to climate change and responsibly managed timber will be the answer to many of their problems.

Paul Brannen, director of public affairs at the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois), has a superb track record in promoting timber. As an MEP he was known as the ‘go to’ man for timber and forestry. He’s managed to get us into the centre of COP26. Now at CEI-Bois, he’s got an amazing timber building – the Timber Beacon – approved to be constructed in Glasgow for the conference, then dismantled and rebuilt in London for the TTF’s World of Wood Festival. It will be our industry’s COP26 nerve centre, helping us influence key decision makers. We have to seize this opportunity.

What we need to realise this focal point for timber, designed by Stirling-award-winning architects dRMM, is £150,000. That’s all it will take to get our industry into the hearts and minds of COP delegates.

Already some companies and countries have put money into the hat, but we need more.

This plea is made directly to you, nobody else. None of you can plead poverty. None of you can deny that you’re making more money now than you’ve probably ever done. If you can’t commit to helping fund such a project now, then you never will.

I’m trying hard to not sound like Geldof, but we all recall his frustration early on during Live Aid, when people were lapping up the atmosphere and watching incredibly talented musicians, for free. So, in the words of Sir Bob, send your money! Send It Now!

Contact Paul, [email protected] and he’ll do the rest.

Keith Fryer