Europe’s renewable energy strategy will destroy forests and harm climate, scientists warn

Europe’s renewable energy strategy will destroy forests and harm climate, scientists warn

Leading climate scientists have denounced the EU’s decision to push wood as a “renewable” energy source.

They say the move will likely result in both a boost in greenhouse gas emissions across Europe and devastation of some of the world’s most ancient forests.

Not only are forests home to much of the planet’s biodiversity, they absorb climate-damaging CO2 from the atmosphere and are therefore considered a vital buffer against climate change.

Despite this, earlier this summer European officials decided – against the advice of hundreds of scientists – that wood could be considered a low-carbon fuel, meaning that trees can be cut down directly to burn.

The thinking behind this action, which would double Europe’s use of renewable energy by 2030, is that new trees can be planted to replace the forests that have been removed.

However, in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists have outlined what they see as the flaws in this logic.

Burning forests releases a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, and it can take many years for the new trees to absorb enough carbon to make up for the quantity that has been released.

The scientists estimate that greenhouse gas emissions could actually increase by up to 10 per cent if wood is widely used as fuel and will lead to many forests around the world being cut down to keep up with European energy demand.

They also suggested that cutting down trees for fuel will encourage other nations to follow suit. Brazil and Indonesia have already pledged to tackle climate change by burning more wood.

Source: Independent

Date: October 2018

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Tags assigned to this article:
climate changeemissionsenergy policyEurope

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