The Science

Power plant smokestacks are not known for spewing forth trees, fully formed. If that point seems comically obvious, try telling it to the European Parliament, which recently enacted new regulations that reaffirm the supposed carbon neutrality of burning wood for energy. The EU decision effectively ignores the time it takes for forests to recover their lost biomass, the ancillary emissions from logging, transportation, and processing wood (and from soils underlying denuded landscapes), as well as the fact that cut forests would have continued accruing carbon had they remained unmolested.

Reporting in the journal Nature Communications, an international team of scientists lead by Timothy Searchinger highlight the consequences of counting all types of forest biomass as a carbon-neutral fuel source. The tree trunk-sized loophole in the EU’s new renewable energy policy means that Europe’s energy sector will see a 5-10% increase in emissions by 2050, instead of the intended 5% decrease. The full paper can be accessed below.

Searchinger et al 2018 EU Renewable Policy Harms Forests