The false promise that burning forest wood can replace Russian fossil fuels

(EurActiv, 7 Apr 2022) Using forest wood to replace Russian fossil fuel imports would not only be disastrous for the environment, it would also not be a credible energy alternative, writes Karl Wagner.

Karl Wagner is director for an NGO campaign to take forest biomass out of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive. A biologist by training, he has managed a number of campaigns including the WWF campaign on REACH. He also served as Director for External Relations for the Club of Rome International.

The panic and helplessness many Europeans feel about the gutting of Ukraine is profound. The nagging feeling of helplessness is worsened by the sheer number of accelerating crises: climate change, destruction of nature, resource depletion, social inequality, and our seeming inability to stop the deaths of millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In retrospect, however, we were never actually helpless. Many of our current crises could have been avoided if policymakers and industry had not, for the last half-century, continuously ignored the fact that we live on a limited planet with limited resources, and had not downplayed evidence of global warming and biodiversity decline. Scientists and activists who tried to warn us have been sidelined, even as natural systems are collapsing.

Now as energy prices spike and we see the real threat of fuel shortages, some people want to double down on one of the most disastrous policies at the nexus of climate and ecosystem destruction: burning trees for so-called “carbon neutral” energy. 

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EurActiv, 7 Apr 2022: The false promise that burning forest wood can replace Russian fossil fuels