Canadian Biomass Magazine

An emissions benchmark

August 18, 2015
By Andrew Macklin

August 18, 2015 - In early June, the G7 countries declared that they would work towards decarbonization by 2100.

It was a bold announcement from seven of the world’s most powerful countries, which seem to finally be taking the warnings of a UN report on climate change released in late 2014 that the impact of climate change would be manageable in greenhouse gas emissions were reduced to zero by the year 2100.

That same report, and the subsequent news coverage that followed, focused on renewable energy from wind and solar, nuclear power plants and underground carbon capture. Yet little of the discussion centers around the role of biomass and biofuels and how they play a role in this future global energy reliance structure.

So then why is it that bioenergy, one of the strongest current solutions for curbing GHG emissions in many countries around the world, is not more prominently suggested as part of the long-term solution?

I would suggest that it is because many world energy leaders have not adopted the stance on biomass that many of us in the industry believe in, a position that has been solidified time and time again by
industry leaders like Bill Strauss of FutureMetrics. That is, of course, that biomass is indeed carbon neutral.

I didn’t realize how much backlash such a view would generate until I was tweeting at an event that Strauss was speaking at last year. I had tweeted the fact that Strauss was showing the audience that woody biomass was carbon neutral, and several environmentalists and outside observers responded to the tweet with profanity-laced denials of the claim.

Of course, those same people will have never bothered to check the science behind Strauss’ claim.

But some governments are starting to listen, and are introducing legislation in support of the carbon neutrality of burning wood waste for energy. One of the most recent examples is the passing of Senate Bill 752 in Oregon which, in section 3a states:

(3)(a) Except to the extent necessary to implement the federal Clean Air Act (P.L. 88-206
as amended), the air pollution laws contained in ORS 468A.025, 468A.030, 468A.035, 468A.040, 468A.045 and 468A.300 to 468A.330 do not apply to carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion or decomposition of biomass.

(b) As used in this subsection, “biomass” means:

(A) Nonfossilized and biodegradable organic materials that originate from plants, animals and microorganisms and that are products, byproducts, residues or wastes from agriculture, forestry and related industries;

This recent example has provided a building block to move forward with a provincial or federal push for similar legislation. Asking someone to be the first is always the most difficult, getting someone to follow suit is less so.

I’m sure you have heard all of this before. And I know, it isn’t that simple. But if we are truly to meet the targets set forth by the G7, then someone needs to step up with some ideas. Why not biomass?



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