A selection from the many news items, most recent at the top
Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe
By Abrahm Lustgarten in NY Times, Nov 20, 2018. “A decade ago, the U.S. mandated the use of vegetable oil in biofuels, leading to industrial-scale deforestation — and a huge spike in carbon emissions.”
Scientists Highlight Forests’ Critical Role in Climate Mitigation
Catherine Benson Wahlén for IISD Knowledge Hub, Nov 13, 2018. “The Climate and Land Use Alliance released a statement from 40 scientists that argues that the preservation, restoration and sustainable management of forests is critical for limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.”
‘Tipping points’ could exacerbate climate crisis, scientists fear
www.theguardian.com Oct 9, 2018. “IPCC report ‘underestimates potential of these key dangers to send Earth into spiral of runaway climate change’ ”
How ‘enhanced weathering’ could slow climate change and boost crop yields
Guest Post on Caron Briefs by Prof. David beerling, Feb 19, 2018
EU forests can’t help climate fight: study
by Patrick Galey in phys.org Oct 10, 2018. “A climate Catch-22″…The so-called “sink-maximising” forest plan, which could save the equivalent of 8 billion tonnes of C02 by the end of the century, would require converting an area the size of Spain from deciduous to coniferous forest. The authors of the study, published in the journal Nature, said the resulting darkening of the landscape would offset in temperature any relative gains in carbon reduction…. “If you favour coniferous forests over deciduous, you darken the leaf colour, which is an important factor in calculating atmospheric temperature.”
COMMENTARY: Natural gas is helping N.S. cut CO2 levels — study
John Hawkins, President of Heritage Gas in the Chronicle Herald Oct 2, 2018 “converting a 2,000 square-foot home with four occupants to natural gas from heating oil can reduce carbon emissions by four tonnes per year, that equals every second Heritage Gas customer taking a car off the road.” View related Gardner-Pinfold report. Should Natural Gas rather than coal be our reference for assessing carbon neutrality of forest biomass?
Forests cut warming better than technology
Tim Radford in Climate News Network, sep 11, 2018. “Biofuels are no easy answer to climate change. Nor is storing captured carbon dioxide. The world’s great forests cut warming better than engineered solutions can”.
Backing Sununu, Enviro Groups Say Biomass Pollutes And Costs Too Much
NHPR Sep 4, 2018 Also see Sununu poised for veto override fight (Sep 4) and Loggers, Environmentalists Rally Against Energy Bills Veto (Sep 6). AND Biomass saved with overridden veto (Sep 13, 2018). It’s not about climate!
New UK Biomass Policy Removes Subsidies For High-Carbon Wood Pellets
Partnership for Policy Integrity. Sep 3, 3018
How Wildfires Can Affect Climate Change (and Vice Versa)
BY BOB BERWYN, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS AUG 23, 2018. “It’s complicated: While CO2 causes long-term warming, aerosols can have both a warming and a temporary cooling effect.”
Climate change is making trees bigger, but weaker
By Lakshmi SupriyaAug. 22, 2018 for Science (Higlights from a paper in Forest Ecology and Management: Wood density reduced while wood volume growth accelerated in Central European forests since 1870, Hans Pretzsch et al., 2018
‘Active’ management wrong answer trying to stop big wildfires
By GEORGE WUERTHNER on www.heraldandnews.com Aug 21, 2018
The European Union just made bioenergy worse for biodiversity
ConservationBytes.com, Aug 21, 2018. Related: Revised European Union renewable-energy policies erode nature protection,
Klaus Josef Hennenberg et al, 2018. Nature Ecology and Evolution 20 August 2018 Volume 429, 1 December 2018, Pages 589-616 “Decreasing wood densities during the last century, Important for assessing growth trends and C-sequestration, Implications for forest management and wood utilization” ..but increased growth mor e than makes up for less carbon sequestered/unit of wood.
Decades of Climate Policy Failure in Canada: Can we Break The Vicious Cycle?
Meinhard Doelle on Dalhoousie University blogs, Aug 8, 2018. “The experience with the development of climate mitigation policy in Canada points to a failure to draw an appropriate line between the legitimate role of affected industries and their undue influence over policy. Affected industries have an important role to play in helping to find effective, efficient and fair ways to reach a given policy goal, such as the decarbonization of our society. However, we continue to cross this line by giving those industries a role in deciding whether we will even work toward critical societal goals at all, and at what pace.”
Thanks to climate change and wetter weather, forest soils are absorbing less methane
August 6, 2018, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Jamie Sayen: The truth about mega-biomass
Concord Monitor, July 19, 2018. A familiar story: “Paul Doscher writes in the July 12 Monitor that electricity generation in biomass plants provides urgently needed markets for wood of low economic value. He argues that caring forest landowners cannot afford to conduct “timber stand improvement” cuts unless there is a market for that low-value wood – a legacy of past forest mismanagement…Doscher – former vice president at the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests, a group now lobbying to influence the legislation in question – failed to mention several essential facts about mega-biomass…”
Bioenergy the turning tide: Biomass emissions are not carbon neutral – we need to change how we account for them
by Eddy Issacs, July 12, 2018. University of Calgary School of Public Policy blog
Pruitt’s parting shot: a Clean Power Plan that will actually increase CO2 emissions
Partnership for Public Policy Integrity (USA), July 6, 2018
Third N.H. biomass company winds down operations following Sununu energy bill veto
Ethan DeWitt in Concord Monitor, July 3, 2018. They are closing it down because fossil fuels are cheaper and the Trump people don’t believe in climate warming. In this case, a lot of people who do accept the science on this issue will also be happy because the science also says most of these forest biomass operations are far from carbon neutral.
Push to Burn Wood for Fuel Threatens Climate Goals, Scientists Warn
By Bob Berwyn, for insideclimatenews.org, June 24, 2018. Scientists say a new EU renewable energy policy on biomass is ‘misleading’ and will raise emissions. U.S. [and Canadian] forests are being turned into wood pellets to feed demand.
The UK’s move away from coal means they’re burning wood from the US
By Carolyn Beeler and James Morrison on www.pri.org June 20, 2018. “Wood pellets, or biomass fuel, are generally made from sawmill waste and logging leftovers, like this pile at a harvest site in Greensville County, Virginia. But the process sometimes also relies on whole, mature trees, which many researchers say eliminates any environmental benefit to the fuel.”
European Academies Science Advisory Council: Commentary on Forest Bioenergy and Carbon Neutrality
Full document: Commentary by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) on Forest Bioenergy and Carbon Neutrality
EASAC Jun 15, 2018 Concise statement. Thanks to PR for passing this one on
Reality check: biomass is unnecessary for the reliability of uk electricity supply—and so are continued subsidies to drax power
NRDC Issue Brief, June 2018. “A groundbreaking new study debunks an industry-led argument in the United Kingdom that biomass ensures the reliability of a flexible, low-carbon electricity system. According to the analysis, in 2030, and as soon as 2021, the United Kingdom can meet year-round electricity demand with a grid increasingly dominated by solar and wind—and no biomass, even under the most challenging conditions.”
Drum Head split on the risks and rewards of Goldboro LNG project
AAron beswick in the CH, Jun 8, 2018. Nova Scotia GHGs etc. discussed. Also, fitting in with this story…
“W&WNS received this note and accompanying images (taken May 18) a while back from a concerned Nova Scotian. “Hey just thought I would send you a few pictures of the LNG site in Goldboro. This land was expropriated in 2009 with help from Mr [Lloyd] Hines [Liberal MLA, former Minister of Natural Resources; current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewa]. Was a nice property at one time What happens if it doesn’t go ahead? 200 acres of wasteland, what a shame. This used to be a beautiful place full of wildlife. Not one thing green left alive.”
The Ideological Divide
By Ron Kotrba for Biomass Magazine May 23, 2018. “Understanding the positions of those opposed to the wood pellet industry is critical to overcoming and reconciling differences.” Very thoughtful article.
View Also: Prospects of Goldboro LNG plant improve, raising concerns about Nova Scotia’s emission reduction targets
Ken Summers in the NS Advocate Feb 19, 2018
Drax power station aims to cut biomass gases in new pilot
BBC news May 21, 2018 “The UK’s biggest power station has announced a £400,000 pilot scheme to capture the carbon dioxide produced from burning wood pellets.”
Also: New chemistry enables UK negative carbon dioxide emissions pilot
Andy Extance for www.chemistryworld.com, May 24, 2018
Smartphone App Enables Family Forest Owners to Get Paid to Store Carbon
Business Wire, April 30, 2018 “BERKELEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–For the first time ever, small forest owners can now access the same carbon market as timber companies to sell carbon credits from their forests through ecoPartners’ platform Forest Carbon Works. This innovative technology provides an alternative for small forest landowners to broaden their revenues beyond timber and cultivate their forests’ ecological value with a fast track to the carbon market. By monetizing the forest as an asset, family forest owners – like Jon and Janice Stewart who are receiving approximately $10,000 annually – can now be paid to sustainably manage their properties.”
Canada’s other contentious energy export sees strong growth potential
By Ian Bickis for the National Observer, April 27th 2018. The article highlights the growing global market for wood pellets, based largely on the concept that burning forest biomass is “carbon neutral”. It also highlights the increasing scientific evidence that in many or most cases, energy generated from wood pellets is far from carbon neutral and its use will actually increase emissions compared to fossil fuels over the the next 20-50 years when it is most critical that we reduce emissions. Interesting comments by Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada:
…such criticism [that wood pellets are worse than coal] is unfounded, with Canadian wood pellet production coming from waste materials like wood chips and sawdust from the lumber mills. That material is already being harvested by the sawmill industry…so instead of wasting it, we’re using it to displace a fossil fuel,” he said.
Georgia Forestry Association Applauds EPA Administrator for Recognizing Carbon Benefits of Woody Biomass
Benzinga, April 23, 2018
“In celebration of Earth Day at Bleckley Elementary School, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made a landmark announcement for the agency recognizing that forest biomass is a carbon neutral renewable energy source. See also: The EPA Declared That Burning Wood Is Carbon Neutral. It’s Actually a Lot More Complicated (by Jason Daley for Smithsonian.com, Apr 24, 2018)
Hardwood forests cut down to feed Drax Power plant, Channel 4 Dispatches claims
Ecologist Apr 16, 2018. Typical of the ongoing debate about forest biomass energy. A hardwood forest is clearcut in Virginia USA to make woodchips for Drax Power in the UK. More carbon dioxide is released from burning the wood pellets than from burning coal to produce the same amount of energy. Some excerpts:
The biomass industry and government argue that because wood is a renewable source of energy and trees can be replanted to reabsorb carbon dioxide this policy is good for the environment.
Andy Koss, chief executive of Drax Power, defended the policy of burning wood pellets in an interview with the programme: “I am very comfortable that all the material what we source meets regulatory standards in the UK and meets our very strict sustainability criteria.”
Koss said the site Dispatches had seen being logged was atypical and that the “vast majority” of its wood comes from residue and waste material. He said: “We’ve obviously looked at this as well. The site was a working forest, it was left unmanaged.
“The owner of that forest wanted to clear this using standard harvesting techniques to turn it back into a working forest. That forest is being regrown. We know the owner of that particular tract – that will grow and there will be more carbon absorbed.”
Our best shot at cooling the planet might be right under our feet
Jason Hickel in the Guardian Sep 10, 2016