Bamboo is an extremely strategic – but as yet largely untapped – resource for countries to combat the negative effects of climate change. Including bamboo in climate change policies and rural development investments makes countries’ Sustainable Development Goals more effective. It will also contribute directly to UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: taking urgent action to combat climate change.
Bamboo can be a tool for large-scale carbon storage. Over a period of time, well-managed bamboo plants and products can sequester more carbon than certain species of tree, according to INBAR research.
Bamboo’s ability to store carbon extends to durable products, which lock carbon in for the extent of their lifespan. Bamboo and rattan can replace a larger number of materials with high carbon emissions, such as PVC, steel and concrete, also reducing pressure on use of forest timber resources. Indeed, bamboo products can have a low or even negative carbon footprint across their lifecycle.
As well as this, bamboo is gradually being recognised as a globally important source of bioenergy. Bamboo biomass can be used directly as fuelwood; modified into charcoal for cooking and heating; or converted into gas for thermal and electrical energy generation.
Finally, bamboo and rattan can help communities and individuals adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. Bamboo building materials are strong and flexible, and resilient to certain kinds of disaster which may occur as slow-onset climate change impacts. Bamboo can also restore degraded lands and protect forests, thus combatting desertification. And bamboo and rattan provide a sustainable alternative source of income to millions of people around the world, offering them more security in a changing climate.
Two obstacles to bamboo’s more rapid development are the current lack of appreciation of its significant benefits by national policy makers, and the classification of this grass species under forestry regulations, which can curtail wider beneficial use for frequent harvesting and trade. INBAR is working to:
INBAR is an Observer to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was recently made an Observer to the UN General Assembly. We raise awareness in the international community about bamboo and rattan’s uses, and the policies that can help make these plants a strategic part of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.
From encouraging climate-smart agriculture practices in China, to promoting climate adaptation using bamboo in Ethiopia and partnering with the private sector companies that use bamboo as a low-carbon material, INBAR shows how these strategic plants can be a large part of the climate challenge solution.
INBAR has written or commissioned a large number of studies into bamboo, rattan and climate change, from country-focused reports to publications on bamboo and climate change mitigation. All work can be accessed on the INBAR resource centre.