Bamboo's Role in Fighting Global Warming
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
In recent years, declarations of a global climate emergency have hit headlines with the human and environmental impact of climate change continuing to rear its ugly head. In 2015, to address this, the landmark Paris Agreement brought the world under one common goal of strengthening the united response to the threat of climate change. A notable aim is to maintain this century’s global temperature increase below 2℃ and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5℃. This involves increasing efforts to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, a primary cause of global warming, released into the atmosphere.
So what’s this got to do with bamboo?
Well, in order to keep the rising global temperature at bay, there’s a need for corporate responsibility within the pulp and paper industry to address the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a primary causal factor in global warming, due to its keen ability to absorb heat radiating from the earth. While it’s certainly a good thing that tissue – a product of the pulp industry – has a global growth rate of 4% per annum, it’s dependent upon the consumption of an average 27,000 trees per day. Consequently, millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere per year as a result. With the strain this is putting on the planet, there is strong international demand for an alternative.
Here are three key reasons why the miracle plant, bamboo, fights global warming:
1. Bamboo enables a transition away from deforestation practices
Bamboo's intrinsic properties make it a sustainable and renewable alternative to tissue produced from hardwood. It produces both a softer and stronger fibre ideal in the production process and holds naturally antibacterial properties perfect for the end product.
This enables a transition away from a reliance on hardwood fibres derived from deforestation, a practice through which 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere per year. Without addressing this, the consequent increase in global temperature precedes a greater likelihood of heat extremes, drought, heavy precipitation, loss of species, reduction in food availability and an increased risk of vector-borne diseases in the years to come.
Furthermore, bamboo is the world’s fastest-growing plant, ready to be harvested annually and sustainably after 4 to 5 years. Typical hardwood takes many years longer to mature and can be harvested only once. Consequently, bamboo provides a consistent, abundant and long-term resource within the pulp and paper industry, promoting a transition away from deforestation practices once and for all.
2. Bamboo takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere
There are many studies discussing bamboo and carbon sequestration. One study has said that on an average, one hectare of bamboo stand absorbs about 17 tonnes of carbon per year. With bamboo’s ability to grow extremely fast, this provides a consistent opportunity to create a large number of durable products which store this carbon over several years.
So, not only do we seek to transition the pulp and paper industry away from being a carbon dioxide emitter but actually to a carbon dioxide absorber.
3. Bamboo connects local communities to sustainable industries
Sustainable industry has a central role to play in the fight against global warming and we take this responsibility seriously with the help of bamboo. However, all too often local communities with the indigenous knowledge and need for employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, get pushed aside in this endeavour. Not with bamboo.
We see it as essential for local communities where sustainable resources naturally reside benefit from this transition to greener industry, with bamboo growing locally in some of the world’s poorest communities and already utilised for its intrinsic properties. We envision the use of bamboo in the pulp and paper industry to provide a multitude of direct and indirect income opportunities to local communities for years to come. Farming bamboo can create employment for thousands of families, and in contrast to timber, bamboo is harvested annually ensuring that these jobs are secure and permanent.
Jamaica will soon be home to a flourishing industry that uses the rich abundance of bamboo plants as the chief raw material