Canadian Biomass Magazine

Biomass from sustainable forestry is carbon neutral: WBA

December 4, 2012
By World Bioenergy Association

December 4, 2012, Stockholm, SE – The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) is highlighting opportunities in the field of modern bioenergy by publishing a short series of science-based information fact sheets. The third fact sheet, "Carbon neutrality of sustainable Biomass from forests," was launched during COP18 UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.

According to the fact sheet, the use of forest biomass is carbon-neutral, because the carbon contained in wood originates from the atmosphere and it is released to the atmosphere by wood decay or by combustion. Before a tree can be burned it has to grow by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Theories on carbon debt and ‘payback time’ of biomass are not credible, because they are based on the unrealistic assumption that trees are first burned and then grown.

At the launch of the fact sheet, President of the WBA, Dr. Heinz Kopetz said: “It is a fundamental requirement of sustainable forestry that the carbon stock in forests remains stable or increases over time. Deforestation and unsustainable forest management lead to a decline of the carbon stock in the forest – this has to be avoided.”

The carbon released by burning fossil fuels is not part of the ‘natural’ carbon cycle. It rapidly increases the CO2 content of the atmosphere. In 2011, about 90% of total CO2 emissions were caused by burning fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels creates a carbon debt that will be a huge burden for future generations, according to Dr. Kopetz.

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy has to be the core strategy with regards to future climate policies. Utilizing biomass from sustainably managed forests can play an important role in this strategy. Several countries have demonstrated that a build up of carbon in forests and an increase of forest biomass for energy is simultaneously achievable by good forest management practice.


Click here to download the fact sheet.

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