More wood use in NZ would help

Friday 13 Mar 2020

 
More wood use in New Zealand would help environment and reduce market pressure in China - The Forest Owners Association (FOA) says the government should be looking at more wood use in New Zealand, which would have environment and trade benefits. The Association President, Peter Weir says it’s time the government turned the negative log market situation in China into a positive outcome in New Zealand.

Lack of space in Chinese ports, due to cheap insect damaged logs flooding in from Europe and the coronavirus induced construction downturn, is looking to bring a virtual halt to New Zealand log exports to China. But Peter Weir says that creates opportunities here.

“All the government needs to do is introduce the wood preference policy that the Labour Party promised in the last election and at the same time it should target the worst fossil fuel users in New Zealand to encourage a transition to renewable biofuels.” The Labour Party manifesto in 2017 stated a Labour government would ‘Support wood manufacturing and processing by favouring wood for new government building projects …’

Peter Weir says the government has had plenty of time to introduce this policy. “It’s been promised for nearly three years now. All it requires is for wood to be considered first in all government contracts. Such a policy has worked well for Rotorua Lakes District Council in particular and it should be rolled out nationally. It would increase the consumption of New Zealand grown wood and would lead to less steel and concrete use.”

Peter Weir says that despite improvements in cement production worldwide, making a tonne of cement still emits almost a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and he says steel production is even worse.

“On the other hand, a tree sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and that carbon stays in the timber when it’s made into a building for the life of the building.” Peter Weir says the other measure the government could take is to put a tax on coal consumption.

“Coal is the worst fuel for emitting carbon dioxide. The government could put a carbon tax on coal of say $200 per tonne, and use the income to assist industries, schools and hospitals convert to biofuels, including wood chips. That would reduce New Zealand fossil fuel emissions and at the same time soak up some of the lower grade timber being produced at the moment that can’t find a home in China,” Peter Weir says.

Source: FOA

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