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EASAC Environment Director criticizes UK plans betting on carbon capture for bioenergy

Scientists, including EASAC, have repeatedly warned policymakers that burning trees for energy is a bad strategy to mitigate climate change given the immediate release of more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Now, the UK government confirms a continued commitment to burning trees for electricityand is proceeding with its plans to support the large power stations burning wood from USA/Canada and other countries' forests - despite the scientific evidence. According to think tank Ember, public funding could amount to upward of $40 billion. The UK government claims that combining biomass energy with carbon capture and storing the CO2 below ground will deliver “negative emissions” and thus take CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Net removals unlikely to be achieved with BECCS

In his response to a UK government consultation on the matter, Professor Michael Norton reiterates concerns that EASAC had voiced in its Commentary on “Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and its role in integrated assessment models”. The Commentary points to the strong scientific evidence that net removals from the atmosphere are unlikely to be achieved if carbon flows are properly accounted for and sounded the alarm that billions of taxpayers’ money risk to go to a technology that is unlikely to deliver on its promises.

„EASAC has been following the scientific evidence on this topic for many years. Claims for net negative emissions towards 2050 net zero targets may rely on the long-debunked claim of carbon neutrality and ignoring other emission sources. Sadly, this means that the billions of subsidies anticipated will harm rather than help the climate, and perversely divert subsidies from technologies that are effective” says Norton.

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