The Biomass Fraud And Why It Is Symptomatic Of The Pitfalls In Climate Struggle

Nothing exemplifies the unfairness of the fight to control emissions than the continued use of Biomass in many developed countries as a 'carbon-neutral' fuel, a patently false assertion

Biomass derived power, at 12 percent, is the UK’s second largest contributor to energy. In 2020, bioenergy accounted for about 61% of renewable energy sources used, with most of the remainder coming from wind (27%), solar (4.8%) and heat pumps / deep geothermal
(4.5%). Similarly in the US, the share of Biomass in Renewable mix is close to 6%. Keep in mind that in most of Europe and North America, Biomass is not the version we consider in tropical countries. It is simply wood, harvested from forests that are expected to regrow at a fast pace to keep the cycle going endlessly. Unlike in India where the natural understanding of Biomass is agricultural waste. It’s an issue we have highlighted repeatedly at IAmrenew

The Biomass movement in these countries rode  the deep desire to be rid of coal usage, while positioning Biomass as a clean fuel, on the logic that  plants used for bio-fuels and biomass burning absorbed as much carbon, as they emitted when burnt, making them carbon neutral. Corn-based ethanol and even palm oil-based biodiesel were pushed aggressively on this premise. In case of wood chips, the logic was that forests will regenerate fast enough to offset any emissions from burning wood.

But if you consider factors like transport emissions, land-use change, and peat emissions, Biomass burning can frequently be as harmful, or even more, than fossil fuels.  It could be argued that the difference between coal burning and biomass burning, in terms of actual impact is probably even less than that between say , coal and gas powered power stations.

Thankfully, some bodies , including financiers, have begun to understand and accept that biomass burning is not clean at all, and should not qualify for green financing. But to see countries like the US and UK continue to place it in the renewable category is just a shame.

It really is time that the science was allowed to lead the argument for or against Biomass burning as a green candidate. A tiny minority of forest owners are being privileged over millions of workers employed in the coal sector because of this distortion possibly. That is pretty much   a symbol of all that is wrong with the approach of the developed world to the issue of climate change, where they simply are not doing their share at all.



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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh is the founder at IamRenew

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