Mitigating climate change is one of the most essential global environmental objectives. Achieving these objectives requires replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, reducing energy consumption and switching to renewable materials.
Finland has been active in implementing the Paris Climate Agreement nationally. The national energy and climate strategy was approved in November 2016, and the medium-term climate change plan towards 2030 was adopted last autumn. The goal is to make Finland carbon neutral by 2045 and the leading circular economy country by 2025.
Built environments consume a lot of energy (40% of primary energy) and materials (50% of raw materials). They also produce significant emissions (30% of greenhouse gas emissions). This is why building regulations development focus increasingly on mitigating climate change.
More than two thirds of timber industry products are used for construction. This is due to the good technical properties of timber products. The industry needs to play an active part in developing building regulations to increase the role and the use of timber in construction. Thanks to our advocacy work, timber's small carbon footprint has gained a positive reputation when drafting new building regulations. In the future, the main focus will be on the environmental friendliness of buildings and building materials throughout their entire lifecycle. For the timber industry, this means all the way from the forest to recycling or bioenergy.
Timber usage can easily be increased elsewhere too. From furniture, bridges and playgrounds to LNG tankers – timber products offer a solution that is technically advanced, healthy, safe and reduces climate change.
Timber products are part of climate policy. Both economic- and climate-related goals can be realised by increasing the use of modern timber product solutions. This is a big opportunity for the entire industry. It also requires strong actions and good co-operation from the timber industry. The sustainability of timber and its positive carbon footprint need to be included more in the decision making of private consumers and municipal and government officials.
This also requires work beyond Finnish borders. In addition to the domestic market, Nordic co-operation creates possibilities for market growth. Regulatory development and standardisation for timber products are already underway in Europe and China, for example.
Non-renewable materials are still in the competition. However, timber has a trump card: timber products are good for the climate.