Biomass risks driving climate change
Responding to the Government's announcement today (Thursday 22 August 2013) of new sustainability criteria for biomass energy, Friends of the Earth Biofuels Campaigner Kenneth Richter said:
“The Government has missed an opportunity to end the controversy around bioenergy.
“It is incomprehensible that under the new rules the burning of trees in power stations will be counted as “carbon neutral” despite the preliminary results of DECC’s own research showing that it can be worse for the climate than burning coal.
“Until comprehensive carbon accounting for biomass is introduced it risks driving climate change, not curbing it.”
Notes to the Editor:
1. The DECC carbon calculation method under the current sustainability criteria will account for emissions from the processing and transport of biomass, but it will count smokestack carbon emissions as being zero.
2. In March 8th 2013 DECC shared preliminary results from its BEAC calculator for emission from biomass burning. The results showed that for a number of forest biomass pathways the total carbon impact of burning forest biomass resulted in higher GHG emissions than fossil fuels.
3. Publication of the BEAC research was originally scheduled for May, but has since been postponed several times. It is now scheduled for the end of September.
4. The European Environment Agency concluded in a review of the evidence of biomass burning that:
“Producing energy from biomass is meant to reduce GHG emissions. But burning biomass increases the amount of carbon in the air if harvesting the biomass decreases the amount of carbon stored in plants and soils, or reduces ongoing carbon sequestration [...] legislation that encourages substitution of fossil fuels by bioenergy, irrespective of the biomass source, may even result in increased carbon emissions”.
5. For more information see the joint Friends of the Earth, RSPB & Greenpeace briefing “Burning Wood for Power Generation - The Key Issues Explained”.
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