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The fundamental science on the carbon and forestry benefits of wood bioenergy, when produced sustainably, is well-established and remains unchanged. It has been attested to by the leading scientists and academics who specialize in this field, and is underpinned by a growing body of academic literature, including key research published in 2019 and 2020.
Sustainable biomass is a small, but important part of the forest economy. It provides an additional income source for landowners alongside core uses for wood in the timber and paper industries, helping to incentivize landowners to plant more trees. Indeed, real world data show forest carbon stocks are increasing in forests where sustainable biomass is sourced. In 2020 forest stocks in the EU28 reached 28,3 billion m3, equivalent to an increase of 47% over the period between 1990 and 2020.1 Similarly, forests in the US Southeast, which is the world’s leading exporter of sustainable biomass, have seen forest stocks increase more than 100% since 19532.
There is clearly an important role for sustainable bioenergy as a climate change mitigation tool. This has been the consistent guidance from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was recently confirmed by the EU Joint Research Centre. Its latest findings on the use of woody biomass for energy production in the EU recognize the revised EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) and the sustainability criteria it introduced as important tools to ensure a sustainable use of woody biomass.
We do share concerns that biomass is produced in a sustainable way, no matter where it comes from. This is exactly why we support the immediate implementation of RED II and the use of high-quality certification schemes to ensure that stringent standards are being upheld. RED II’s sustainability criteria are based on well-established science, expert testimony, and evidence gathered from stakeholders on all sides.
In line with the JRC’s call to “de-toxify” the debate around biomass, we invite those who harbor concerns about wood bioenergy to work together with us and regulators to ensure it is produced sustainably and delivers the benefits to our climate and forest ecosystems that science clearly proves it can.