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News PRESS RELEASE: China, UNFCCC, UNOSSC urge bamboo as a “forgotten solution” in COP negotiations

PRESS RELEASE: China, UNFCCC, UNOSSC urge bamboo as a “forgotten solution” in COP negotiations

INBAR News
13Dec

PRESS RELEASE: China, UNFCCC, UNOSSC urge bamboo as a “forgotten solution” in COP negotiations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Key points:

Wednesday 12 December, Katowice, Poland – Bamboo – the fast-growing grass plant, common to Africa, Asia and South America – can be an important way to ‘green’ infrastructure drives such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to a number of key policymakers and private sector representatives. The remarks, made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland, throw an important spotlight on the need to include natural resources in the ongoing climate change negotiations.

Fast growing and quick to mature, bamboo can be used to make an increasing number of heavy-duty materials, such as pipes, scaffolding and housing. These products act as a sustainable, low-carbon alternative to timber, PVC, aluminium and concrete. Bamboo plants and products can also store more carbon than certain species of tree, and provide a year-round, climate-resilient form of income for millions of people around the world.

The input of several high-ranking policymakers – including the Director of Policy and Programme for UNFCCC – is important in the context of COP. According to recent research by the Nature Conservancy, natural climate solutions can deliver over 35% of cost-effective carbon dioxide mitigation needed by 2030, but they are a critically overlooked part of most climate change discussions: approximately 1% of climate change negotiations focus on natural resources.

Bamboo’s potential is realized at a high level in China. According to Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative on Climate Change, the plant “can provide valuable opportunities for the green development of developing countries along the Belt and Road.” He also raised the possibility that bamboo could become part of China’s new Emissions Trading Scheme, the largest in the world, as a way for polluting companies to offset emissions. “Bamboo’s role in carbon trade should be fully recognised. We’re working to establish the regional and global carbon market, and the carbon sink created by bamboo forest and industry should be incorporated.”

With a bamboo sector valued at over USD 30 billion, China is the leader in bamboo innovations. Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, Jorge Chediek, said that he was “inspired” by China’s uses of bamboo, as a carbon sink and to create a wide range of low-carbon products. He added that bamboo’s ability to store carbon means they have “huge potential” to green emissions-intensive infrastructure projects.

The Director of Policy and Programme at UNFCCC, Martin Frick, emphasized the importance of bamboo as a source of income: 10 million people in China alone are employed in the bamboo sector. ““For me, bamboo is one of the things where the SDG agenda and the climate agenda really can go hand in hand.” He revealed that Swedish homeware company IKEA is investing heavily into bamboo, and urged other companies to “think bamboo” as a means to green their manufacturing and construction processes. And Canada’s Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Stephen Lucas, stressed that Canada believed in the importance of bamboo as “climate-smart solutions” to issues such as unsustainable resource use and deforestation.

Bamboo has been making headlines around the world in 2018. In January 2018, The Economist ran a profile on China’s bamboo innovations, which include “storm-drainage pipes and shock-resistant exteriors for bullet-train carriages”, predicting that the sector is “about to shoot up”; and in November, bamboo housing shot to international fame with  one 22-year-old designer’s ‘four-hour’ bamboo housing, which won the prestigious Cities for our Future Challenge.

According to Hans Friederich, Director General of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), this new focus on bamboo is to be expected. “2018 is the year of reckoning for plastic waste – Collins Dictionary even chose ‘single-use’ as its word of the year. So it’s natural that people are looking to low-carbon, reusable alternatives for plastic items, like bamboo. What we really want to show here is that bamboo is more than just reusable cups and straws – it’s also long-lasting, durable infrastructure, which can help make economic development more sustainable.”

For media inquiries, please contact Charlotte King, INBAR’s Communications and Press Specialist, at cking@inbar.int, +447889006533. Charlotte is also present at Katowice.