Bamboo's potential to mitigate climate change
By Chuck Tinte

Bamboo, despite being a cheap and practical natural resource, remains largely untapped. But according to experts, this humble type of grass could be a key resource in pursuing green development and climate change initiatives. 

The humble bamboo is famous for being functional and economical.

From durable products like furniture, handbags and musical instruments to massive structures like bridges and houses, it's a material that can be used in many different ways. 

One good example is the Bamboo Eye pavilion featured at the International Horticultural Expo in the Beijing suburb of Yanqing.

The structure is made of over 5,000 bamboo poles -- processed to last 30 years. 

But bamboo is not just an ordinary construction material. In fact, it can help curb the negative effects of climate change. According to a research by the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), bamboo can actually replace a number of construction materials with high carbon emissions, like PVC, steel and concrete.

Unlike usual construction materials, bamboo scores better in terms of carbon footprint.

According to INBAR, using it as a substitute in making window frames, cladding and more would result in a significant reduction of carbon dioxide -- which is what climate change efforts aim to achieve. 

"It's a plant that absorbs the most CO2 (carbon dioxide) during its lifetime, so it's also wonderful when it comes to sustainability. It controls the flux of water in the ground, so it will be helpful for avoiding floods," says Mauricio Cardenas Laverde, an architect and a member of the INBAR Construction Task Force.

In China, for example, bamboo is projected to accumulate over one million tons of carbon by 2050. And this is one of the reasons why China wants to contribute greatly to the cause. 

The National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China has earmarked three million U.S. dollars to support a global assessment of this natural resource. 

Cardenas Laverde adds, "The president of China encouraged INBAR to pursue their task and be in Beijing, has pushed different regions in China for the bamboo to grow spontaneously, and has given courage and financial support." 

China has also pledged green development under the Belt and Road Initiative. It's a promise that will surely see the humble yet mighty bamboo work its magic.