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Timber cities could save a billion tonnes of emissions by 2100

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Timber cities could save a billion tonnes of emissions by 2100 Empty Timber cities could save a billion tonnes of emissions by 2100

Message  MurielB Jeu 16 Mar - 15:23

Timber cities ‘could cut 100bn tons of CO2 emissions by 2100’ | Environment | The Guardian
Building new urban homes from wood instead of concrete and steel could save about 10% of the carbon budget needed to limit global heating to 2C this century, according to a new study.
The overhaul of construction practices needed for such a shift would require up to 149m hectares of new timber plantations – and an increase in harvests from unprotected natural forests – but it need not encroach on farmland, according to the paper by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Housing 90% of the world’s growing urban population in mid-rise wooden buildings could prevent 106bn tons of carbon emissions by 2100, says the research.

Abhijeet Mishra, the paper’s lead author, said: “More than half the world’s population currently lives in cities and by 2100 the number will increase significantly. This means more homes will be built with steel and concrete, most of which have a serious carbon footprint. But we have an alternative. We can house the new urban population in mid-rise buildings – that is four to 12 storeys – made out of wood.”
The study, published in Nature Communications on Tuesday, is the first to analyse the scale of emissions cuts possible from a large-scale transition to “timber cities”.
Using four different land-use scenarios, PIK scientists used the Magpie open source global land use model to explore the impacts and practicalities of the “timber cities” idea.
Their reasoning was that wood has the lowest carbon footprint of any building material, because the carbon dioxide absorbed during tree growth will not be emitted until the timber is finally destroyed.
Alexander Popp, a co-author of the study, said that preventing logging for timber in pristine forests and biodiversity conservation areas was crucial to their calculations.
“The explicit safeguarding of these protected areas is key but still, the establishment of timber plantations at the cost of other non-protected natural areas could further increase a future loss of biodiversity,” he said.
Environmentalists, though, point out that the world’s 131m hectares of tree plantations tend to be less biodiverse than natural forests and burn more easily.

Sini Eräjää, Greenpeace’s European food and forests campaign lead, said it would be “a terrible idea” to cut down natural forests and replace them with wood plantations.
“It would be a disaster for nature and for the climate,” she said. “Natural, biodiverse forests are more resilient to drought, fires and disease, so are a much safer carbon store than the tree plantations we’ve seen go up in smoke this summer from Portugal to California. Wood can play a bigger role in construction but to double the world’s tree plantations at the expense of priceless nature is just bonkers, when modest reductions in meat and dairy farming would free up the land needed.”
The advantages of a timber frame construction is Economy above all: Financially, a timber frame house is more affordable for people. For a 150m2 area, a wooden slab would cost around 23,000 euros compared to 55,000 euros for a concrete slab. 
In addition, making new homes out of wood instead of steel and concrete could avoid more than 100 billion tonnes of CO2 being emitted over the next 80 years, and help avoid climate catastrophe, scientists have said. Anyway more timber plantations will be required which is a risk to biodiversity. We also need farm land to grow food for people and livestock. 
 

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