Bioenergy association says forest biomass is carbon-neutral

Pulp & Paper Canada
January 01, 2013
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The World Bioenergy Association released a fact sheet about the carbon neutrality of sustainable biomass from forests during the COP18 UN Climate Change Conference.

The lengthy document explains that the use of forest biomass is carbon-neutral, because the carbon contained in wood originates from the atmosphere and it is released to the atmosphere by wood decay or by combustion.

It examines the carbon cycle of forests in detail, and considers various aspects of global carbon balance and deforestation.

The association argues that before a tree can be burned, it has to grow by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, therefore theories on carbon debt and ‘payback time’ of biomass are not credible, because they are based on the unrealistic assumption that trees are first burned and then grown.

“In contrast to the biological carbon cycle, the combustion of fossil fuels injects additional carbon stored over millions of years deep beneath the earth’s surface into the atmosphere and thus unbalances up the global carbon cycle. The natural sinks are not big enough to absorb the huge amounts of fossil derived carbon, so part of it remains in the atmosphere with an ensuing negative impact on the climate,” explains the WBA fact sheet.

During a press conference at COP 18, the president of the WBA, Dr. Heinz Kopetz, stated: “It is a fundamental requirement of sustainable forestry that the carbon stock in forests remains stable or increases over time. Deforestation and unsustainable forest management lead to a decline of the carbon stock in the forest – this has to be avoided.”

The fact sheet is available from the World Bioenergy Association web site at

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