Supporting the UNFCCC Climate Change Convention  

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change can unlock new country-level investments for bamboo and rattan development – helping to reduce carbon emissions, restore degraded land, strengthen resilience, and initiate climate-smart agriculture.
When countries begin the task of developing their national climate change action plans after the COP 21 Climate Change Convention negotiations in Paris, there will be significant scope for new investments in bamboo and rattan. The final UNFCCC agreement will call for activities and investment in the areas of climate change adaptation, mitigation, finance, and technology development and transfer.

Country climate change action plans contributed to the UNFCCC process – called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – are the entry points to unlock future investment in the climate change agenda. INDCs indicate the targets that countries are setting to reduce emissions and global warming.They give a first look at specific action areas where investment will be needed, including increasing forest coverage, clean energy technologies, reducing land degradation, climate-smart agriculture, capacity building, and the transfer of new technologies and best practices for rural livelihoods – all areas where bamboo and rattan can add value.Using INDCs as a guide, INBAR members and others promoting bamboo and rattan for sustainable development can start planning today.Where will national action plans focus? Where can bamboo and rattan help? 

A rapid scan of COP 21 INDC contributions reveal common action areas where bamboo and rattan can help mitigate and adapt to climate change and help countries achieve their sustainable development goals. These include:

Creating additional ‘carbon sinks’

Like other plants, bamboo and rattan also absorb CO2. Research in China, for example, has shown that a managed forest of Moso bamboo forest absorbs more CO2 than an equivalent woodlot of Chinese fir. Unlike trees, bamboo is harvested selectively and continues to store carbon for the longer-term. Once products are made from bamboo, the carbon is locked up and prevented from escaping into the atmosphere for the product lifetime.

Providing sustainable replacements for higher carbon emission materials

In many cases, bamboo and rattan are viable replacements for higher carbon emission material for products made from wood, plastics, and steel. Bamboo poles, fibre, and engineered bamboo can be used for most purposes where timber is used, and for many products made from plastic and steel. Rattan grows in forests and is being used for a growing number of products, reducing pressures on forests and timber.

Bamboo’s contributions to renewable energy

Bamboo provides energy when it is burned as firewood, processed into chips or pellets, or carbonized as charcoal. Where it grows abundantly, bamboo should be considered as an important component of national and local green energy and climate change mitigation plans. In many locations, business models are emerging for the creation of bamboo plantations that provide a steady source of renewable fuel for charcoal production or small-scale electricity generation.

Bamboo and rattan for forest expansion, management and land restoration  Bamboo can play a strategic role in national forest expansion plans and for countries’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programmes that will create new carbon sinks. Bamboo’s robust nature and rapid growth rate – thriving and expanding on severely degraded soils and reaching maturity in 3-6 years – make it an ideal pioneer species to reforest and rehabilitate lands quickly.

Climate-smart agriculture – innovative uses with bamboo and rattan

Bamboo is a powerful tool that communities can use to help reduce soil erosion, maintain slope stability and rapidly restore degraded lands. Bamboo grows rapidly, regenerates annually, and has good adaptation to poor soils and climate conditions, helping to bind soils. Also, as ecosystems are affected by climate change that can negatively affect traditional livelihood activities, both bamboo and rattan can help bring families new off-farm sources of income.

Disaster resilience – the case for bamboo housing and structuresFor affordable housing and dwellings that can be rapidly erected to respond to natural disasters, bamboo is merging as a flexible construction material of choice. A growing number of documented cases provide evidence of how bamboo structures better withstand natural disasters, than concrete housing, which is largely destroyed by floods, landslides, or earthquakes. Bamboo’s unique properties of being sustainable and with high tensile strength, point to a revolution that is waiting to happen.

This blog is based on the INBAR Position Paper – ‘Bamboo, Rattan and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’ and INBAR Policy Synthesis Report 1 – ‘Bamboo: A Strategic Resource for Countries to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change.’