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University scientists emphasize carbon benefits of renewable wood energy


October 28, 2019
By US Industrial Pellet Association

The US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) today lauded a recent letter signed by more than 100 scientists from more than 50 colleges and universities citing the benefits of wood energy. The letter, published by the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs (NAUFRP), calls on policymakers to consider key fundamentals related to forest biomass.

Read the letter here.

Emphasizing that research on the use of forest biomass dates back to the 1980s, the scientists noted that the “carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass are well established.” The letter also cites a report from United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which notes:

“In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

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The scientists also emphasized research showing that “demand for wood helps keep land in forest and incentivizes investments in new and more productive forests, all of which have significant carbon benefits.”

Reacting to the report, Seth Ginther, USIPA Executive Director, commented:

“This is a resounding statement of academic consensus on the benefits of renewable wood energy. The value of biomass energy production in lowering carbon emissions and supporting healthy forests is well-documented through decades of peer-reviewed research. This letter underscores exactly what we are hearing from the UN IPCC: that sustainably-sourced wood biomass is an essential technology to fight climate change and limit global temperature rise to 1.5 C.”

Reviewing more than 30 years of scientific research on forest biomass utilization, scientists from a diverse range of universities across the country – from Yale, Harvard, and Georgia to Washington, Idaho, and Berkeley – identified four fundamentals for science-based decision-making on biomass energy production:

  • The carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass energy are well established.
  • Measuring the carbon benefits of forest biomass energy must consider cumulative carbon emissions over the long term.
  • An accurate comparison of forest biomass energy carbon impacts with those of other energy sources requires the use of consistent time frames in the comparison.
  • Economic factors influence the carbon impacts of forest biomass energy.

“We would encourage all policy-makers to heed the recommendations of these university scientists when considering the role of wood energy in reducing carbon and lowering emissions,” said Ginther. “The scientific consensus is clear and continues to strengthen: forest biomass is a critical part of an all-in renewables solution for climate change.”