A recent report published by Chatham House, an international think tank based in London, maintained that using biomass to generate low-carbon electricity is a flawed policy that is speeding up global warming.
The report, published in late February of this year, has created controversy with over 125 academics joining the International Energy Agency Bioenergy Technology Collaboration Programme in calling the report “misleading” and stating, it “does not present an objective overview of the current state of scientific understanding with respect to the climate effects of bioenergy.”
IEA Bioenergy members with experience in several fields related to biomass reviewed the report and felt it did not present an objective overview of the current scientific findings related to the effects of bioenergy on the climate.
The panel stated the conclusions and policy recommendations in the Chatham House report were based on flawed arguments.
However, Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate & Energy at WWF-UK, stated, “This report clearly shows that burning wood is not a climate change solution. In fact, it can make climate change far worse. Bioenergy only makes sense when using wastes and residues, not wood or crops, in hard-to-treat sectors, such as aviation and industry.”
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) agrees, stating in an article on their website, “Scientific evidence shows that some types of bioenergy can result in meager emissions savings or even increases in emissions. And because of its significant reliance on land use, and often using materials from forests or habitats, biomass used for energy can sometimes put wildlife at risk.”
However, a recent report from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, reaffirms the government’s belief that when sourced sustainably, biomass can play an important role as a baseload renewable energy source.