LIVE with wool and reduce your carbon footprint’. That’s the theme of a new marketing alliance for wool announced today, highlighting the benefits of wool as the ideal fibre to help reduce global warming.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) launched the program with the Wool Carbon Alliance, a group of Australian and international wool industry representatives working together.

It’s based on international research which says a household can significantly reduce its carbon emissions by living with wool: insulating with wool, wearing wool, walking, sleeping and sitting on wool.

According to the alliance, wool is a planet-friendly fibre made from the simple combination of sunlight, water and grass.

It is made of up to 50 per cent carbon, stored in a stable form. It is renewable, has the ability to biodegrade without harm to the environment and can be recycled.

Furthermore, it takes significantly less energy to produce wool products than that required by man-made fibre products, and this ensures CO2 emissions are kept very low.

Therefore, the increased usage of wool can positively reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The European Commission, for instance, reports that a household can cut its CO2 emissions by up to 300kg a year and energy bill by 5-10 per cent simply by reducing its heating by a mere 1°C.

“Ours is an ambitious plan to let the world know just how versatile our great natural fibre is. It’s wool’s time to help the planet and for us to sell more wool in the process,” says alliance chair and AWI board member Chick Olsson.

AWI CEO Brenda McGahan says: “The other exciting component is that this initiative brings the industry together around a global issue for which we all feel wool is a natural solution.”

Mr Olsson also noted the potential for Australian woolgrowers to reduce their carbon footprint through on-farm sequestration of carbon.

“Provided carbon accounting methodologies are changed to encourage generation of credits from sources other than agro-forestry, there is enormous potential for farmers to credit from good environmental practice while remaining viable as food and fibre producers and significantly reducing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere,” Mr Olsson says “This positive perspective is shared by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

“This group calls for a greater focus on the positive role of terrestrial carbon, stored in forests, woodlands, swamps, grasslands, farmland and soils.

“CSIRO analysis shows that if we could capture just 15 per cent of the biophysical capacity of the Australian landscape to store carbon, it would offset the equivalent of 25 per cent of Australia’s current annual greenhouse emissions for the next 40 years.’”

Joining Mr Olsson on the Wool Carbon Alliance are Dr Meredith Sheil (Australian Wool Innovation), Martin Oppenheimer (Australian Wool Growers Association), Günther Beier (International Wool Textile Organisation), Geoff Power (South Australian Farmers Federation and formerly WoolProducers Australia), and Tom Ashby (Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders).

As a preliminary step, alliance member and IWTO president Günther Beier says IWTO will take wool’s voice to the European Parliament in early 2010.


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