From Science to Policy 7

Pekka Leskinen, Giuseppe Cardellini, Sara González-García, Elias Hurmekoski, Roger Sathre, Jyri Seppälä, Carolyn Smyth, Tobias Stern, Pieter Johannes Verkerk

While the positive role of forests in climate change mitigation is generally well perceived, the contribution of wood products to mitigation is much less known and understood. Current national reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and related processes does not attribute the substitution benefits of wood-based products directly to the forest sector. However, this information is important when developing optimal strategies on how forests and the forest sector can contribute to climate change mitigation.

A substitution factor (or displacement factor) typically describes how much greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided if a wood-based product is used instead of another product to provide the same function – be it a chemical compound, a construction element, an energy service or a textile fibre. Overall greenhouse gas substitution effects can be estimated by combining information on the quantity of wood products that are produced or consumed, with product-specific substitution factors.

The number of available scientific papers linked to substitution has increased in recent years, however, there is a lack of studies that provide an overall synthesis of the topic. This From Science to Policy study  aims to help us to better understand what is the most updated knowledge on greenhouse gas effects of various wood products compared to alternative materials, and what are the limitations. It also identifies important research gaps that should be covered to have a better understanding of the substitution effects.

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Recommended citation:
Pekka Leskinen, Giuseppe Cardellini, Sara González-García, Elias Hurmekoski, Roger Sathre, Jyri Seppälä, Carolyn Smyth, Tobias Stern and Pieter Johannes Verkerk. 2018. Substitution effects of wood-based products in climate change mitigation. From Science to Policy 7. European Forest Institute.

Number of pages: 28
ISBN 978-952-5980-69-1 (print)
ISBN 978-952-5980-70-7 (online)

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Pekka Leskinen is Head of Bioeconomy Programme and Professor at the European Forest Institute.
Giuseppe Cardellini is Researcher in the Resource Flow Management group at the Technical University of Munich.
Sara González-García is a Researcher at the University of Santiago de Compostela.
Elias Hurmekoski is Researcher at the European Forest Institute.
Roger Sathre is Chief Scientist at the Institute for Transformative Technologies in Berkeley.
Jyri Seppälä is Professor and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Finnish Environment Institute.
Carolyn Smyth is Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada.
Tobias Stern is Professor at the University of Graz and Key Researcher at Wood K plus (Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH).
Pieter Johannes Verkerk is Principal Scientist at the European Forest Institute.