Analysis: How a Climate-Smart Forest Economy Could Help Mitigate Climate Change and Its Worst Impacts
The global population is rising, and cities, particularly, are taking the strain. Each week 1.5 million people move to urban areas. All these people need places to live and work and to provide this, it’s forecasted that an area as large as New York City must be built every 34 days for the next 40 years.
As a result, the pressure on the world’s resources is accelerating exponentially, but perhaps surprisingly, this does not have to be to the detriment of the environment. There is a way that the surging demand for new and retrofitted buildings could actually help accelerate natural climate solutions, such as reforestation, and lead to an increase in global carbon absorption and storage.
Typically, building work contributes to the degradation of the environment and loss of ecosystems. There is a growing body of evidence. However, that shows that if building work drives demand for sustainable timber sourced from climate-smart forests that absorb and store carbon and help to stabilise and improve soils, it could actually play an instrumental role in reaching net zero and mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. A recent study estimates, for instance, that if 90% of the new urban population is housed in newly built urban mid-rise wooden buildings, 106Gt of additional CO2 could be saved by 2100. As a bonus, it could help provide clean water and jobs for rural communities, as described in a recent report by WRI.