More than 500 scientists from all around the world have voiced their concerns regarding the burning of biomass as carbon neutral in a letter to the EU and some world leaders. The scientists have urged the governments to end subsidies for burning wood that are harmful to the environment, as well as pose a serious threat to the world's forests.
Hundreds of scientists who signed the letter said that each kilowatt-hour of heat or electricity produced by burning trees would add two or three times much carbon to the environment as using as fossil fuels. According to their explanation, it is because wood is not as energy-dense as coal or oil—which means more woods need to be burnt to produce the same amount of power.
To the Leaders of the World
The letter is addressed to the US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
It was signed by several economist and scientists, including Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the Belgian climatologist who is the former chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as experts from countries like the US, the UK, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Norway, Canada, Brazil, Portugal and Spain.
The world climate is changing dramatically and the worrying signs are more visible now. While some of the world leaders are trying to fix this already damaged environment, scientists and environmental experts are asking them to think about the alternative plan.
The scientists are concerned about the "false solution"—burning the biomass for energy. They are worried that the solution is replacing the real efforts to reduce carbon emission in all the countries.
According to Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office: "Fighting the climate emergency without changing the EU's biomass rules is like trying to bail out a boat with a hole in the bottom."
Why the Alternative Is a Bad Idea
Scientists said that to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the preservation of forests and restoration should be the ideal tool—as a large amount of CO2 can be absorbed by trees. As per the experts, simply shifting from burning fossil fuels to burning trees as an alternative to generating energy would not help the world.
For years, producers of paper and timber products have generated electricity using their waste. But neither helped the world environment nor led to the additional harvest of wood. Rather, there has been a "misguided move" to saw down the entire tree to divert large portions of stem wood for bioenergy. This has caused the release of CO2 which would otherwise have stayed locked up in the forest.
"If the world supplied just an additional 2 percent of its energy from wood, it would need to double its commercial wood harvests," the letter reads.
At the end of the letter, the scientists said: "Trees are more valuable alive than dead both for climate and for biodiversity. To meet future net-zero emission goals, your governments should work to preserve and restore forests and not burn them."