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Letter to the Editor: Wood products yield clear environmental advantages over other building materials

Letter to the Editor: Wood products yield clear environmental advantages over other building materials

 

To the Editor,

 

We were surprised to read a Nov. 3 article in the Daily Commercial News (DCN) by John Bleasby (Inside Innovation: Harvesting trees reverses wood’s carbon gathering) on the important issue of building construction and its impact on the environment that was largely based on conclusions or information drawn from sources that are misleading or simply not factual.

Just last week at the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released a 168-page report entitled Forest Products in the Global Bioeconomy that showcases the important role wood and wood fibre-based products play in replacing GHG-intensive products and lowering the planet’s carbon footprint. You can access the full report here: https://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb7274en.

The Nov. 3 opinion piece in DCN cites comments made by John Talberth, founder of the U.S.-based Center for Sustainable Economy, on a recent CBC “The Current” interview. During that interview, Talberth shared mainly hyperbole in his comments, inappropriately calling wood products and their environmental benefits “propaganda.” His comments simply ignored the evidence and demonstrated his lack of credibility on the issue.

The Nov. 3 Inside Innovation article also fails to recognize that numerous life cycle assessment studies worldwide have shown how wood products yield clear environmental advantages over other building materials at every stage, offering lower greenhouse gas emissions, less air pollution, lower volumes of solid waste and less ecological resource use.

A 2017 study that was subsequently updated in 2021, comparing wood, concrete and steel designs for a 2,300-square-foot single family home found that wood had a significant advantage. In fact, concrete’s impact on the environment was 50 per cent greater than wood and 115 per cent greater with respect to air quality: https://www.ecohome.net/guides/1010/how-wood-structures-compare-to-steel-and-concrete/.

The article suggests the cement industry has set a goal to halve industry emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. That’s laudable and we are happy to see the industry taking action to improve its environmental performance given if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world — behind China and the U.S. (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46455844)

Canada’s forest products sector encourages debate and discussion regarding building construction and how it can play a role in the fight against climate change. We also believe that all materials have a role to play, but the discussion should be objective and focused on facts versus misleading and incomplete information.

 

Sincerely,

Derek Nighbor                                                                           Kevin McKinley

President and CEO                                                                   President and CEO

Forest Products Association of Canada                           Canadian Wood Council

 

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