• REA highlights misrepresentation of biomass carbon accounting methodology in latest Chatham House report.
  • REA calls for fair, honest and science-led debate that avoids polarising statements and recognises the role of biomass in decarbonising our energy systems.

Commenting on today’s Chatham House report, Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy, said:

“Today’s Chatham House report misrepresents well-established carbon accounting methodologies for the use of biomass in energy, set out and reaffirmed by the thousands of scientists at the UN IPCC. This is an approach that has also been verified by leading independent scientific bodies such as the UK’s Climate Change Committee and the International Energy Agency, whose scenarios for achieving Net Zero carbon emissions all demonstrate a critical role for the use of sustainable biomass and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).   

“Calls to restrict the types of biomass feedstocks used fail to appreciate that in sustainably managed forests, where biomass feedstocks originate, forestry activities are driven by higher-value sectors such as supplying wood to the construction and furniture industries, which pay much higher prices for wood fibre than the bioenergy sector. These activities drive the availability of low-value residues and thinnings as a by-product of sustainable forestry, which then go to bioenergy because they lack other markets.

“Use of this type of biomass is also certified through independent schemes, such as the Sustainable Biomass Program, which audit sustainable supply chain practices and go beyond even the strict national sustainability governance arrangements in place in the UK and EU. This results in increased carbon stocks in the forest where biomass originates, as proven by real-world data from forests in the United States, for example, where forest cover and sequestered carbon have more than doubled since the 1950s, due to careful stewardship and supply of sustainable wood products.

“Earlier this year, 28 leading climate scientists published a peer-reviewed academic paper that warned against exactly the kind of misconception seen in today’s report, which are borne out of a failure to appreciate whole system dynamics present in bioenergy use and forest carbon. Therefore, it remains disappointing that Chatham House continues to take an inaccurate and minority view that misrepresent robust carbon accounting methodologies, along with the critical need for biomass use in power, heat and transport decarbonisation.  

“The REA calls for a resetting of this increasingly polarised debate. With COP 26 approaching, it is essential that a fair, honest and science-led debate is had. This must recognise the need for bioenergy in decarbonising energy systems and enable all stakeholders to engage with the established and verified carbon accounting methodologies that sit behind bioenergy use.”


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Notes to editors:

About the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA):

The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (known as the REA) is the UK’s largest trade association for renewable energy and clean technologies with around 550 members operating across heat, transport, power and the Circular Economy. The REA is a not-for-profit organisation representing fourteen sectors, ranging from biogas and renewable fuels to solar and electric vehicle charging. Membership ranges from major multinationals to sole traders.

For more information, visit: www.r-e-a.net