Wood construction to accelerate the energy transition in the EU

There are many steps on the pathway to a carbon-neutral future, but reaching it by 2050 requires urgent action. This is the conclusion of a group of top scientists tasked by the European Commission to advise on facilitating the energy transition in Europe. InnoRenew CoE experts are convinced that the most feasible pathway to carbon neutrality is using more wood in construction.

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Photo: SAPEA
Photo: SAPEA

Recently, the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism published two major documents on a systematic approach to the energy transition in Europe in which experts underline that the energy transition is far from a purely technical challenge. To make the transition a reality, a major systemic problem needs to be addressed: countless voluntary individual decisions on investment, consumption and behaviour across Europe must be coordinated. This means transforming the entire European energy system — a change which will affect every part of our society and require significant investment throughout the transition. It must be done in a socially equitable way, and it needs to be accelerated if we are to meet the EU’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Professor Peter Lund, chair of the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) working group said “The SAPEA report does not recommend an unequivocal policy package for Europe, but rather a set of policy options addressing various important facets of the overall challenge of the energy transition to reach carbon neutrality.” He added, “However, as a central conclusion, any successful policy must involve a carbon pricing mechanism, in both the EU Emissions Trading System and Effort Sharing Regulation sectors, that delivers a sufficiently high carbon price while putting the pricing in a socially just frame.”

The InnoRenew CoE, a research institute based in Izola, Slovenia, collaborated in preparation of these documents as part of the SAPEA consortium. Dr Andreja Kutnar, InnoRenew CoE director and SAPEA working group member, highlighted the importance of using more wood in construction to deliver a lower carbon footprint and improve the energy transition in Europe. “By improving sustainability in building construction we can provide effective carbon storage and positive health impacts,” she said. Dr Kutnar added that obstacles can be overcome through greater recognition of the benefits of wood construction – both for the environment and for building occupants – and with more policy support in the European Green Deal.

All members and experts included in SAPEA consortium call for urgent and decisive action to integrate emissions-free energy sources, and to have ensure policymakers are well-informed about the science when making decisions on complex issues. With the comprehensive report delivered to the European Commission, the SAPEA consortium can advise the EU in preparation of its strategy for a zero-carbon future at a time of extreme urgency of fighting climate change.