Policies aimed at limiting climate change by boosting the burning of biomass contain critical flaws that could actually damage attempts to avert dangerous levels of global warming in the future. That is the stark view of one of Britain’s chief climate experts, Professor John Beddington, who has warned that relying on the cutting down and burning of trees as a replacement for the use of fossil fuels could rebound dangerously. Beddington, a former UK government chief scientific adviser, said there was now a real risk that increasing wood-burning in order to help European countries, including Britain, reach renewable energy targets could turn out to be misguided. “These policies may even lead to a situation whereby global emissions [of carbon dioxide] accelerate,” he states in a blog on Carbon Brief, the UK-based website that covers climate and energy issues. He says wind and solar projects should dominate programmes to boost renewable energy generation in Europe. Burning wood to produce electricity is a relatively inefficient process. In generating exactly the same amount of electricity, wood will release four times as much carbon into the atmosphere as gas would do, and one and half times as much as coal. In addition, energy is used in harvesting and transport while vast stretches of land are needed to create the forests to supply generating stations with the wood they need. This also has profound environmental impacts for a world that will soon be home to more than 10 billion humans who will need every scrap of productive land to provide food.
Observer 31st Dec 2017 read more »