A study by the Association of the European Paper Industry titled Climate effect of the forest-based sector in the European Union concludes that the forest-based sector saves 806 million tons of CO₂ each year. This is equivalent to 20% of the EU’s total CO₂ emissions.

The wood supply chain can reduce 20% of the EU’s CO₂ missions alone. Image credit: Research Gate

The wood supply chain can reduce 20% of the EU’s CO₂ missions alone. Image credit: Research Gate

The forest-based industry has shown its committed to CO₂ neutrality. With a CO₂ avoidance of 806 million tons of CO₂ per year*, it can make valuable contributions to green reconstruction in Europe.

This is the result of a study led by the Association of the European Paper Industry, in which nine other associations from the wood value chain, from forestry to the woodworking industry and the print industry, took part.

On the one hand, the study calculates the emissions during the production processes. These amount to 51 million tons of CO₂. On the credit side, the storage of CO₂ is then recorded in sustainably managed forests and in wood products such as furniture, timber or paper.

447 million tons of CO₂ are avoided here. In addition, the CO₂ saving is credited through the substitution of fossil-based products and energy sources. This results in an increase of 410 million tons of CO₂. In total, the savings effect is 806 million tons of CO₂. This translates to 20% of the total EU emissions.

Forests are important CO₂ stores. As they grow, they absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere. Sustainable use plays an important role here, because only it guarantees that the forest continues to grow and never releases more CO₂ than can be absorbed. If the wood is processed into products, the CO₂ also remains stored in them. And recycling ensures – in addition to the highest possible resource efficiency – a further extension of the CO₂ cycle.

In addition, wood-based products have a low carbon footprint. Compared to plastic and plastic packaging, the CO₂ footprint of paper packaging and cardboard is around 50%. The total so-called substitution effect of bio-based products is 410 million tons.

These avoided emissions are not significantly less than the forests store in CO₂ each year (447 million tons). In contrast to other CO₂ avoidance options, there are already many bio-based alternatives to currently fossil-based products. By using them, this can accelerate the change towards the bioeconomy and convert the economy to renewable raw materials.

The wood value chain is committed to climate neutrality and the EU climate targets. With bio-based products, from timber and furniture to textiles, paper, medicines and additives for the food and chemical industries to renewable energy, this can make valuable contributions to a green reconstruction process in Europe.

Review the full study findings here.

The study was carried out by forest expert Dr Peter Holmgren, former head of the Center for International Forest Research CIFOR.

The study is sponsored by:

CEPI – Confederation of European Paper Industries

CEI-Bois – European Confederation of Woodworking Industries

EFIC – European Furniture Industries Confederation

EPF – European Panel Federation CEPF – Confederation of European Forest Owners CEETAR – European Organization of Agricultural, Rural and Forestry Contractors

FTP – Forest Based Sector Technology Platform

INTERGRAF – European Association for Print and Digital Communication

EUSTAFOR – European State Forest Association

* All figures correspond to CO₂ equivalents.