AKIPRESS.COM - Senior climate scientists say that the world’s carbon sinks could be facing a grave threat from a wholly unexpected source: the EU’s renewable energy directive, The Guardians reports.
The climate law could suck in as much imported wood as Europe harvests each year because it will count energy created from the burning of whole trees as “carbon neutral”, according to several academics including a former vice-chair of the UN IPCC.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, who is now a climate sciences professor at Université Catholique de Louvain, said the risk of the directive encouraging tree clearances and the destruction of global carbon sinks was now “extremely high”.
Indonesia and Brazil were among 27 countries which pledged “to increase the use of wood … to generate energy as part of efforts to counter climate change” at the Bonn climate summit last year.
Without additional conservation measures, “the directive in its present form will create a large demand for wood that will contribute to destroying those forests,” van Ypersele said. “It is a catastrophe in the making.”
The EU’s thinking has been that carbon neutrality can be achieved by planting new saplings that eventually compensate for the carbon released by the burning of trees for energy.
But the saplings’ growth can takes decades or centuries. By 2050, replacing fossil fuels with wood will likely result in two- to three times more carbon in the atmosphere per gigajoule of final energy, the paper says.