Gaston Franco member of the european parliament

Gaston Franco ( M E P )

Wood is probably the most environmentally friendly material that nature has given to man. It is made from CO2, captured from the atmosphere by trees and stored in wood, where the carbon will remain locked for the entire lifespan of the wood.
It is not only a magnificent ecological material, it is also a technological material, perhaps even the most innovative and the most extraordinary one at man's disposal. Today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come, wood is and will continue to be this wonderful natural material, at the same time common and mysterious, beautiful and technical, visionary and renewable.
Serving as a versatile raw material for construction, furniture, packaging, panels etc., it not only inspires artists within industry, but also those that have made art their profession; the artists who make us question reality and dream about other solutions. Wood as a material deserves to be worked by these artists for our pleasure and our search for better ways to master the future.
It is for all these reasons, that I love wood and woodbased products.
Through this exhibition at the European Parliament, entitled Tackle climate change: use wood, to which I gladly lend my name, the artists seek to emphasise and demonstrate the variety that wood in all its facets has to offer, whether it be as sculpture, craft, decoration or message.
It is my hope that this exhibition will convince many that using wood and wood-based products now more than ever before will help us in achieving our main policy goals which are to create a better, safer, kinder world.
For society, there is one truly naturally renewable resource which plays to man's capacity for innovation: namely wood!


Basics regarding carbon storage and substitution

There are two ways to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere: either by reducing emissions, or by removing CO2 and storing it – reducing 'carbon sources' and increasing 'carbon sinks'. Wood has the unique ability to do both.

Reducing carbon sources
Embodied energy

The energy used to create the materials that make up a building is typically 22% of the total energy expended over the lifetime of the building, so it is worth paying attention to the materials specified, as well as to the energy efficiency of the structure. There is no other commonly used building material that requires so little energy to produce as wood. Thanks to photosynthesis, trees are able to capture CO2 in the air and to combine it with the water they get from the soil to produce the organic material, wood.

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Substitution for other materials

Not only is the production and processing of wood highly energy efficient, giving wood products an ultra-low carbon footprint, but also wood can often be used to substitute for materials like steel, aluminum, concrete or plastics, which require large amounts of energy to produce.

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Increasing carbon sinks
The carbon cycle

Carbon is present in our environment in a variety of different carbon reservoirs: dissolved in our oceans; in the biomass of plants or animals, whether living or dead; in the atmosphere, mostly as CO2; in rocks (limestone, coal…), etc.

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Forests as carbon sinks

Thanks to photosynthesis, the trees in a forest can trap large amounts of CO2 and store it as wood. Some 0.9t CO2 is trapped in every cubic metre of wood. The total carbon stored in Europe's forests, excluding the Russian Federation, is estimated at 9552 million t, increasing annually by 115,83 million t, while an additional 37,000 million t, increasing annually by 440 million t, is stored by the vast forests of the Russian Federation.

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Wood products as a carbon store

Wood products are carbon stores, rather than carbon sinks, as they do not themselves capture CO2 from the atmosphere. But they play an important part in enhancing the effectiveness of the forest sinks, both by extending the period that the CO2 captured by the forests is kept out of the atmosphere, and by encouraging increased forest growth.