Hypocrisy claim as scientists call on EU to ‘correct’ biomass carbon accounting rules

Posted: August 30, 2020 by oldbrew in Accountability, Emissions
Tags: ,

Carbophobes discover biomass burning is far from ‘carbon neutral’. It’s taken some of them a long time to admit that it’s one of their clumsiest attempts to ‘tackle’ the phantom that is human-caused climate change.
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Europe’s academies of science have called on EU lawmakers to introduce a “radically new standard” in the blocs’ Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to ensure net carbon emissions from biomass power stations are “properly accounted for and declared”, reports Euractiv.

The ETS is the EU’s flagship tool for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and obliges power generators, industrial emitters as well as airlines to buy CO2 permits on the market to cover some of the pollution they emit.

But although the ETS currently assumes that all biomass is carbon neutral, Europe’s academies of science say this is mostly not the case.

“Much of the biomass employed in Europe is anything but carbon neutral,” writes professor Michael Norton, environment programme director at the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC).

“Today’s carbon accounting rules under the ETS that allow biomass stack emissions to be ignored, give forest biomass a free ride – despite its massive climate effects,” he explains.

“From a scientific standpoint, not correcting this mistake is climate hypocrisy,” Norton said in a statement published on Wednesday (26 August).

EASAC represents the consensus among national science academies in the 28 EU member states, plus Norway and Switzerland, giving its opinions considerable authority among the scientific community.

The statement accompanies the scientists’ response to a public consultation by the European Commission on monitoring and reporting rules under the ETS, which are due to be updated before the next trading period starts in 2021.

Today, carbon emissions from biomass power plants are considered to be zero under the ETS, because it is assumed that emissions from burning biomass – if compliant with EU guidelines – are eventually compensated for by newly planted trees.

But EASAC believes that does not properly reflect the effect biomass plants have on climate change, saying this is true even when biomass replaces coal-fired power generation, the most polluting of all energy sources.

“EASAC’s and many other scientists’ work has shown that swapping coal with biomass in power stations often does not reduce, but increases net emissions to the atmosphere, when the whole life cycle is properly accounted for,” the group said in a statement.

“It should not be possible to just assume that millions of tons of carbon coming out of a power station stack are ‘zero’,” it adds.

Full report here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    The Dutch have decided: Burning biomass is not sustainable
    Jul 21, 2020

    The Netherlands should phase out the use of biomass for generating electricity as soon as possible, the advisory board of the Dutch government said in a report presented earlier this month.

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    Who’s next?

  2. ivan says:

    Who’s next?

    A very good question but I very much doubt it will be BoJo because he only listens to those that tell him what his squeeze wants him to hear, and the green lobby tends to run the parliament.

  3. Derek Colman says:

    I have long criticised the claim that biomass is carbon neutral on various forums over the last several years. My efforts drew lots of bile from the true believers, including an extended discussion with a guy who tried to justify his use of wood for heating from his private wood. How many times have I pointed out that Drax burns a tree which took 50 years to grow in seconds? So it is gratifying to see that this message from me and many others, has finally sunk in with those clever degree waving folk, since I am just that bloke in the pub.

  4. Gamecock says:

    ‘“Today’s carbon accounting rules under the ETS that allow biomass stack emissions to be ignored, give forest biomass a free ride – despite its massive climate effects,” he explains.’

    Massive climate effects? Is he trying to be funny? Prof Norton, tell us of one of these ‘massive’ effects.

  5. Phoenix44 says:

    I can’t see the difference between burning trees and planting new ones to compensate and burning gas and planting trees to compensate? Indeed starting at the beginning, cutting down trees put you CO2 deficit immediately as their absorption is lost.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Phoenix – yes, it’s a bit like having a permanent large overdraft at the bank and claiming to be solvent.

  7. Gamecock says:

    I will gladly pay you Tuesday if I can burn your trees today.

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