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22nd of September 2010

Woody Biomass and biofuels generate 'carbon debt'

Author / Source: BirdLife

True climatic consequences of biomass utilization in the short to medium term, could lead to poorer results than use of fossil fuels. This showed the report "Bioenergy: a carbon accounting time bombs", which is based on two independent studies, Joanneum Research and CE Delft, reported Focus - Association for Sustainable Development. The first study, carried out by the Joanneum Research reveals a big mistake in the way of calculating the carbon savings from forest biomass, both in European legislation as well as under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. Felling of trees for energy needs, according to the findings of the study, actually creates 'carbon debt'.

Head of EU policies in BirdLife International Ariel Brunner points out that "the EU is piling up second carbon mortgage, which may never be able to repay. Biomass politics must be corrected before the regulatory mistakes lead to ecological crisis which can not be corrected."

Biofuels as bad as fossil ones

Meanwhile, another study carried out by the CE Delft, examined the overall climate impacts of major biofuels used across Europe. The study concludes that most of them are also as bad for climate as fossil fuels, taking into account indirect land use change. As Focus - Association for Sustainable Development explained, the study specifically focused on the effects of expansion of agricultural land in environmentally sensitive areas where food production is dislocated due to energy crops, a process known as indirect land use change (land use change INDIRECT, ILUC).

Given the findings of these studies the current EU policy for the promotion of biomass for heating and electricity production and biofuels for transport, represent the threat of serious environmental impacts and increases the carbon debt that will be not be repayed for centuries.

"But we can avoid that," says Pieter de Pous from the European Environmental Bureau, "if the European Commission and the industry is willing to develop measures that will ensure that bioenergy policy will actually make a positive contribution to the fight against climate change." The study also suggests concrete ways to improve the current calculation of greenhouse gas emissions, which will fully take into account the emissions associated with indirect land use change.

Read more here: http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2010/06/carbon-bomb.html



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