Chatham House: Policies that promote wood as a renewable source are ‘flawed’

28 February, London – A new report from the Royal Institute of International Affairs (‘Chatham House’) has argued that policies for promoting the use of wood as a renewable energy resource are ‘flawed’ as they assume that it is a carbon neutral energy source, despite evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shows wood emits more CO2 per unit of energy than coal.

The role of wood in Europe’s renewable energy mix has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with Germany recently advocating the use of wood in long-life bio-products rather than in bioenergy, due to difficulties in ensuring sustainable management of wood resources.

The true carbon emissions of biomass resources are often unknown as a result of inadequacies in the international reporting framework, and the report calls for the EU to only advocate the use of biomass resources that can demonstrate true carbon reductions, primarily wood industry residues and post-consumer waste.

The European Union is currently discussing a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive as part of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package, and is looking into more stringent requirements for biomass resources.

For more information, see the Chatham House report, ‘Woody biomass for power and heat: Impacts on the Global Climate