New UK Committee on Climate Change Report Reaffirms Wood Bioenergy’s Role In Protecting The Environment

A new report released by the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) reaffirms the positive role wood bioenergy plays in combating climate change, protecting the environment, and reducing net carbon emissions.

The report, titled “Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK,” analyzes how forest management and land use policies are key ingredients in any climate change mitigation strategy. Specifically, the report notes that sustainable forest management paired with wood bioenergy plays a key role.

“Sustainably managed forests are important for reducing emissions across the economy. They provide a store of carbon in the landscape and harvested wood can be used sustainably for combustion and carbon sequestration in the energy sector… (33)” 

In fact, the report finds that “all scenarios for the achievement of net-zero” emissions utilize bioenergy.

“In all scenarios for the achievement of net-zero, sustainably harvested biomass can play a significant role, provided it is prioritised for the most valuable end-uses (98).”

The report also discusses how a global “scale-up in bioenergy production is needed” for the UK to meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Globally, a scale-up in bioenergy production is needed to meet the Paris Agreements goals, and the UK should be at the forefront of developing and demonstrating good governance practices (100).”

Switching from coal to wood biomass produces significant net carbon savings, helping mitigate global climate change in line with recommendations from the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s foremost climate science authority. As researchers at the University of Illinois have found, switching from coal to wood biomass reduces emissions by between 74 to 85 percent on a life cycle basis.

The United Kingdom has been at the forefront in its embrace of low-carbon bioenergy. Last year, CNN profiled how Drax, once “the biggest polluter in western Europe,” has now “made a near-complete switch to renewable energy” by embracing wood biomass. In 2019 the UK also made record gains in renewable energy thanks in large part to wood bioenergy.