The UK timber industry can help us reach net-zero and meet housing targets – which is why I’m relaunching the APPG for the Timber Industries.
This Government has committed to build 300,000 homes in the UK each year to make it possible for more people to own a home – a place for people to call their own, a place for families to raise children and build their lives.
But it’s not enough to just build more houses – these homes must also be better quality, safer, beautiful, and more sustainable. After all, we have adopted the world's most ambitious climate change target by committing in law to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. I believe, in line with the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), that one of the keys to making this happen will be our low-carbon building materials sector – namely timber.
The UK timber industry is a £10bn supply chain that supports 100,000 jobs in the UK. Each and every MP shares a local link to this industry as it extends from the forests; to high-tech manufacturers; and, of course, to construction sites across the country.
As the Environmental Audit Committee looks into the sustainability of the built environment, I expect they will again highlight the importance of using more wood in construction – as the CCC have repeatedly emphasised in reports over the past four years.
Timber reduces the carbon emissions from construction in three main ways. It acts as a form of carbon capture and storage as the carbon dioxide sequestered by trees is stored in the wood product created for the product’s lifetime. It increases the number of trees grown in sustainably managed forests, which helps to sequester even more carbon dioxide. And it displaces carbon-intensive materials to reduce the carbon footprint of a building.
While there is no silver bullet to building more homes, reducing our carbon emissions, and creating better, more sustainable employment opportunities, I am without a doubt that the timber industry will be a key to all three – and create a thriving low-carbon construction industry here in the UK.
In the UK we are already beginning from a strong base, with a thriving wood and forestry sector, world-leading technical expertise in our universities, architects at the forefront of sustainable design and an enthusiastic potential workforce who are determined to help make construction green.
To help make construction greener, I’m working with the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) to re-launch the APPG for the Timber Industries. This APPG will explore how the Government can work with timber businesses to help achieve the UK’s carbon, housing, and employment targets.
The CTI has recently put together a policy brief, highlighting how the sustainable timber industry can help the construction industry move towards net zero now. I encourage colleagues across the House who are interested in forestry, construction, or net-zero to check out this report and get involved in the new APPG. We must show that we can build more, build better, and build lower-carbon.
The launch event of the prospective APPG will take place virtually on Monday 5 July.