02 June, 2015

Report Released at UN Climate Negotiations Says Forest Biomass Not Carbon Neutral

Media Release, 2 June 2015

Members of Parliament considering adding native forest biomass to the RET should be aware of a working paper released at UN Climate negotiations in Bonn overnight by Chatham House which says that burning forest biomass for electricity is not carbon neutral, warned Markets For Change.

Chatham House is a highly regarded international think tank based in London, also known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

The Working Paper “Forest-based biomass energy accounting under the UNFCCC: finding the ‘missing’ carbon emissions” is an advance release of one section of an extensive research paper examining the worldwide impact on forests and the climate of the use of wood for electricity generation and heat.

“According to the well-researched study, fostering forest biomass as a source of renewable energy in Europe is shown to be actually damaging the climate further with carbon emissions,” said Markets For Change CEO Peg Putt who attended the event in Bonn.

Key messages are:

  • The assumption that forest-based biomass is carbon neutral is flawed
  • The UNFCCC's GHG accounting framework treats biomass as carbon neutral within the energy sector based on the faulty assumption that emissions will be fully accounted in the land-use sector
  • The current land-use accounting rules result in a significant quantity of emissions from forest-based bioenergy being excluded from the global accounting system.
  • The global increase in the use of biomass for heat and electricity is making it increasingly clear that the accounting rules currently in place cause gaps in carbon accounting that can lead to perverse climate outcomes

A presentation on other parts of the upcoming full report also outlined that the burning of forest biomass creates a ‘carbon debt’ which can take decades or even centuries to recover.

“The important message for Australia from this weighty study is that burning native forests for electricity will not help the climate. The assumption that it is climate neutral is simply wrong,” Ms Putt said.

“The proposal to include native forest biomass burning into the Renewable Energy Target is deeply flawed and should be rejected when it is debated in Parliament in coming weeks,” Ms Putt concluded.

A copy of the paper can be obtained from: JHein@chathamhouse.org

Link to a blog about it

Contact: Peg Putt 0418 127 580

Markets For Change Limited
ABN 18 148 079 645
PO Box 3087, West Hobart, TAS, 7000
Email: mfc@marketsforchange.org

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