Reports and statements Energy Environment

Commentary on Forest Bioenergy and Carbon Neutrality

Since the publication of its report on “Multi-functionality and Sustainability in the European Union’s Forests” in April 2017, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) has engaged with the European Commission, the European Parliament and other stakeholders on the science underlying the use of forest biomass as a form of ‘renewable’ energy, within the debate and negotiations on the ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans’ package.

Our report (inter alia) analysed current trends to substitute fossil fuels by forest biomass at a large scale, and the relevance of the concept of carbon neutrality to its justification. We highlighted, for example, that carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated from forest biomass are higher than from coal and thus it is inevitable that the initial impact of replacing coal with forest biomass in power stations is to increase atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Regulations thus need to be carefully designed to ensure that only uses making a positive contribution to climate change mitigation are allowed to be regarded as ‘renewable’ energy.

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