Fudging figures: Europe emits more to emit less

Posted: November 30, 2012 by tallbloke in Carbon cycle, climate, Politics

From Euractiv.com

SPECIAL REPORT / Practically half of the EU’s renewable energy currently comes from wood and wood waste, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat, but a lack of sustainability criteria for measuring its environmental impact is stoking fears of a hidden carbon debt mountain.

The new Eurostat numbers were issued in conjunction with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL), which sets ambitious renewables, energy efficiency and universal energy access targets.

According to the Eurostat statistics, on average, 49% of renewable energy in the EU 27 states came from wood and wood waste last year, and most EU states met the majority of their renewable energy obligations this way.

Forest products were most popular in the Baltics, accounting for 96% of Estonia’s renewable energy and 88% of Lithuania’s. At the other end of the table, Cyprus only used wood materials for 13% of its renewable energy needs.

“The bad news behind these figures is that the carbon debt from much of this wood means that CO2 emissions in the real world will actually go up,” Faustine Defossez the bioenergy policy officer for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), told EurActiv.

Full article here.

  1. Doug Proctor says:

    If forests are converted to energy (plus CO2) at the same rate as trees are growing elsewhere, the net change is zero. If trees are harvested at 10 years after seedling planting, then you can harvest at a 10% rate.

    In the Canadian west, the low temperatures and rainfall make forest recovery more than a 100 year process (I’ve hiked through enough clear-cuts to know that). So we should be doing no more than a 1% harvest/year.

    The numbers, as McKibben might say, tell the tale. Growth rates determine that the “profit”, so to speak, is between 1 and 10 (or less). This limits the amount you can ever get from forestry-fuel projects.


  2. ntesdorf says:

    Europe is heating its house by throwing all the furniture into the fire. This will not last long.

  3. michael hart says:

    Given that the EU’s auditors haven’t given the accounts a clean bill of health for seventeen consecutive years, and with all due respect to Faustine Defossez, I hope the EU is better at counting trees than it is at counting money.

  4. Marco Polo says:

    In the mountains of China, they mine a sort of black stone. There are big seams of it. When lit it burns like charcoal and gives off much more heat than wood and will burn throughout the night and still be going in the morning. The stones flame a bit when first lit but then glow, giving off considerable heat. Abundant and cheap in a country where admittedly there is also an abundance of wood, these stones make possible the continous firing of stoves and baths. Warm baths are taken by everyone at least three times a week and daily in winter if a person can afford it.

  5. Brian H says:

    Since there is no such thing as “carbon debt”, the issue is moot.