Using Bamboo to Fight Climate Change

Supporters of the grass take to Cancun.

Bamboo—technically a grass, not a tree—has the potential to significantly offset carbon emissions, and has been the center of discussions this week during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun.

The "grass" is stronger than steel and is a buffer against climate change in two ways: by providing low-income communities with a material to build climate-resistant homes and by sequestering carbon faster than other species such as eucalyptus. It also grows at the rate of 1.2 meters per day.

"Bamboo is a remarkable resource for driving economic development, and is readily available in many of the world's poorest countries," said Coosje Hoogendoorn, director-general of International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in Cancun.

"Bamboo should be referred to as the wise man's timber," said INBAR regional coordinator Alvaro Cabrera, because it helps support the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people, grows fast, is found across the globe, and is a significant source of trade dollars at about $5 billion per year.

China, India, and Vietnam are the main sources of bamboo for trade and there is talk of developing schemes whereby bamboo stocks come labeled with a sustainability certification and indication of the the source country. The bamboo discussions held today in Cancun indicate the growing effort to diversify climate change tactics.

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[Image: Terry Spivey,]

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  • jared

    I for see a world free of pollution, all thanks to this wonder plant know as bamboo but just as the human species can breath easy in there new clean world an infestation primes its self for world domination. You might wonder what the root of this evil is. Well it’s the vary thing that was used to conquer world pollution. Thanks to wide spread use of bamboo (and super growth fertilizers, to make the plant grow faster) humanity lost control of it. It spread threw out the world chocking all other plant life forcing us to ether evolve into some kind of black and white mixed with a bit of green bamboo eaters or into extension. So yes I blame all the nature savviest for the destruction of the human race or are evolution into some odd bio mass……….. Thanks a lot.

  • Gary

    "developing schemes whereby bamboo stocks come labeled with.."
    Extremely bad idea. Imagine hundred of thousands of bamboo farmers having to pay someone somewhere for special labels or labeling equipment so they can be taxed on their harvests of bamboo. A far better thing would be to promote the use of bamboo in all it's forms instead of conjuring up schemes to regulate it. Government regulation always leads to taxation and more government bureaucrats who typically have absolutely no value to add. That doesn't help the family trying to make ends meet by harvesting bamboo. Helping the farmer is better. Educating the consumer is better. Adding more wasteful government is just plain dumb.