Canadian Forest Service Publications

Substitution effects of wood-based products in climate change mitigation. 2018. Leskinen, P., Cardellini, G., Gonzalez-Garcia, S., Gustavsson, L., Hurmekoski, E., Sathre, R., Seppälä,J., Smyth, C., Stern, T., Verkerk, P.J. Royal Swedish Academy Report on Forests and Climate, From Science to Policy (FSTP) – series.

Year: 2018

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39478

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Plain Language Summary

Goal: Substitution, or displacement factors, describe how much GHG emissions would be avoided, if using a wood-based product instead of another product to provide the same function, be it a textile fibre, chemical building block, or a construction element. Despite the importance of the topic, relatively few studies have assessed such factors for a broad range of forest products. Methods: To improve the understanding of the substitution effects of all wood and wood-based products, we conducted a systematic review of studies published until April 2018. The review included 51 studies that provided original substitution factors or studies that contained emission data for a wood product and a functionally-equivalent non-wood product. Key findings: The large majority of studies indicate that the use of wood and wood-based products are associated with lower fossil and process-based emissions as compared to non-wood products. For example, many studies report that the use of wood for construction purposes result in climate benefits as compared to non-wood products. Average SF for structural and non-structural construction are 1.3 and 1.7 kg C / kg C wood product, respectively, but there is substantial variability and uncertainty associated with these estimates. The reviewed substitution factors are characterized by substantial variability and uncertainty, which can be explained by differences in assumptions, data and methods, but it also reflects the fact that substitution factors are context-specific. The study also identifies limitations and important research gaps that should be covered to have a better understanding of the substitution effects – for example there is a lack of knowledge on the climate impacts of emerging wood-based products like textiles and biochemicals.