Report Raises Concerns Over Biomass Production

A new report from Carbon Trade Watch, “Nothing Neutral Here: Large-scale biomass subsidies in the UK and the role of the EU ETS,” is sounding alarms over the UK’s move to increase biomass consumption as part of its green economy plans. Earlier this month, Brazilian Suzano Papel e Celulose received approval for what is believed to be the most advanced genetically modified (GM) tree plantation trial ever.

The report ties together demand for biomass in the UK to the role of the EU’s Emissions Trading System and what Carbon Trade Watch says is the destructive expansion of industrial monoculture tree plantations around the world. The report came on the heals of an April 26, 2012 announcement from the UK government regarding its bioenergy strategy that included increased energy production from biomass. Carbon Trade Watch believes the “British biomass boom” will benefit polluters and cause “widespread environmental destruction through land grabs and deforestation.”

“The British government seems determined to lock the country into a dirty energy pathway that fuels climate chaos, arguably the greatest modern day threat to human survival,” said report author Joseph Zacune. “Campaigners are warning that the government’s new bioenergy strategy will require around 80 million tonnes of wood for biomass energy that would unleash land grabs and cause major emissions from deforestation. Why should we continue to subsidise polluters in favour of appropriate energy solutions like wind, solar and tidal energy?”

According to Carbon Trade Watch, local communities across the UK are campaigning to stop biomass-fueled power plants while companies are “greenwashing their polluting activities.

Tamra Gilbertson co-director of Carbon Trade Watch added, “Climate justice struggles bring together grassroots networks, groups and individuals that are demanding tough action against the root causes of climate change and for a truly sustainable, affordable and democratic energy system. To continue the same over-production and over-consumption of energy is a dead-end but governments continue to ensure that profit-seeking corporations control the energy systems and pollute our skies.”

2 thoughts on “Report Raises Concerns Over Biomass Production

  1. More lies, ignorance and distortion from those who benefit financially from spreading propaganda about an industry they clearly know nothing about.

    Carbon nuetrality is not a myth. If I harvest 10,000 acres of trees per year from a 150,000 acre plantation, immediately replanting what is harvested, then the fuel is actually carbon negative, not nuetral at all. The 140,000 acres of growing, thriving trees are absorbing far more carbon than the 10,000 acres of biomass which I am harvesting and using for fuel on a rotating basis. Your neatly contrive examples ignore the many excellent examples that are currently in operation today and sustainably managed.

    Furthermore, to suggest that plantations are the result of destroying native forests simply to install plantations is incredibly stupid. Yes this happens, but in many cases the land is being retuned to profitable use after farmland has laid fallow or forests have been long ago logged off for cattle or other uses. To simply apply a blanket generalization like that is an amazing distortion of the truth. Many countries can benefit from plantation development in areas that have long ago been deforested, both economically, environmentally and socially.

    The authors of this report should spend less time creating attractive artwork for their publications and more time doing the actual research needed to present a respectable effort.

  2. The science of planting forests and harvesting wood for various uses is incredibly narrow in focus and objective. There should be concern about scaled up homogeneous operations that are part of a growing demand for fuel and destroy modest scale operations managed by many ownships doing diverse forms and types of planting.

    Wood growth for short term harvesting is a symptom of economics for profit and does not really contribute to he larger social and economic picture other than demonstrate the power of technology in misshaping our natural habitat. Far better, that forestry should be part of a diverse ecosystem combining more advanced concepts of balanced environmental diversity than the scaled up forms of manufactur so destructive in modern society.

    It’s sad that opportunism rules the day and large corporations organisations drive our world into boring topologies and homogenous croppings. It would be far better to devise mixes of forests combining hard and soft woods that balance the many risks environmental, economic, social and technological. It is so very sad that people do not get more sophisticted in managing diversity in forest operations and we can’t lock up carbon in more permant ways rther than scramble for profit and self gain. I cry for humanity that we can’t think better about such issues for the promotion of veryone’s interests and not just a smaller number of land owners.