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New EU Rules To Allow Burning Of Whole Trees For Biomass

January 26, 2018

By Paul Homewood




The wood-pellet biomass industry has long maintained that it is only burning wood residues — the bits of trees left over from other uses. Wood that otherwise would have left on the forest floor and decomposed anyway.

Environmental campaigners in the US have uncovered much evidence to indicate that this is not true, and that wood pellet factories there are using whole and healthy trees to supply European biomass plants.

It is significant then that the European Parliament passed new rules last week that officially gave the go ahead to burning whole trees.



Both environmentalists and climate scientists are horrified. Like J Pascal van Ypersele, climate physicist and IPCC Vice Chair:





And the RSPB:

Today’s European Parliament vote, like yesterday’s marine vote, delivers yet another dramatic death blow to our living planet. Razing whole forests to the ground to feed our energy use releases vastly increased carbon into our atmosphere; carbon which would otherwise be naturally stored in the forest. Converting land into biofuel plantations means wiping out nature and evicting local communities. This is a crime when well-located wind and solar power offer viable alternatives. Energy from biomass should be limited to waste and residues, not whole trees, forests and food. Such perverted outcomes do not help in the fight against climate change.


I’m not sure just what legal weight the Parliament’s vote carries, as it does not have much actual authority in practice.

But I think that the vote is a recognition of just how difficult it is to reach its 2030 renewable energy target. Without biomass, which provides a fifth of the EU’s renewable energy, the target would probably be unachievable.

  1. A C Osborn permalink
    January 26, 2018 7:18 pm

    But they only do so by ignoring the Facts about combustion of wood vs Coal & Gas.
    They are quite mad.

  2. January 26, 2018 7:47 pm

    This is insanity!

    • January 26, 2018 8:08 pm

      If there was a word that meant worse than insanity, l then I would use it. Truly, the European Parliament is the last remaining lunatic asylum.

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        January 26, 2018 11:52 pm

        Aren’t you forgetting the EU bureaucracy which probably ‘suggested’ the vote?

      • January 27, 2018 7:02 am

        Graeme: You are correct, I should have included all of the EU bureaucracy.

  3. It doesn't add up... permalink
    January 26, 2018 8:14 pm

    You can bet that the British will ensure they follow this new ruling post Brexit.

    Meanwhile, down in Kapstad they are busy blaming Climate Change for overpopulation and poor resource management:

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      January 27, 2018 7:25 am

      A quote from the article: “This is a natural disaster of immense proportions, …”

      I think Australia has some unused water-plant capacity.
      Poor government and lack of preparation is not a natural disaster.
      I find it hard to empathize.

  4. RAH permalink
    January 26, 2018 8:45 pm

    What more proof does anyone need that the support for “renewables” has nothing to do with the climate or environment?

  5. mothcatcher permalink
    January 26, 2018 8:55 pm

    I think Paul’s analysis is as astute as ever. The only explanation I can think of for this is a desperation to reach that ‘renewable energy’ target for 2030, however contrived the method. There really isn’t any scientific justification for this nonsense, even if you are a warmist. We are truly living in strange times.

    These days I hate to side with the RSPB, but I guess that’s what I’m doing. Even if their “…… delivers yet another dramatic death blow to our living planet..” is about as much b******* as you can get in one scrotum.

    • January 27, 2018 10:24 am

      Well, a death blow is a death blow. There can only be one death blow so it is hard to conceive how there could be “another”. Unless the living planet is already dead, and has risen from the grave, but even then it would be “a death blow to our undead planet”. And it is surely some sort of tautology to call a death blow “dramatic”. Can you have a non-dramatic death blow to the living planet? Seems inconceivable.

      Very poor.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      January 27, 2018 12:00 pm

      “These days I hate to side with the RSPB”

      I haven’t for a long time, and the following quote provides ample proof of why:

      “This is a crime when well-located wind and solar power offer viable alternatives

      They do not, and never will – at least biomass (and this is the only good thing about it) does provide controllable power…

  6. January 26, 2018 9:05 pm

    “This is a crime when well-located wind and solar power offer viable alternatives.”

    Hope they got their eagle killing permits?

    • January 26, 2018 11:40 pm

      “Viable” has a fluid meaning with these people.

      • January 27, 2018 10:25 am

        They intended “risible.”

  7. John in Oz permalink
    January 26, 2018 9:50 pm

    but, but, but trees are renewable (the CO2 created from burning them is used by the new, growing ones) whereas solar panels and wind generators are not (they do not produce the materials required to build new ones).

    What’s not to like?

    • January 28, 2018 4:47 pm

      I take this as a bit ‘sarc.’ In the UK we will need the equivalent of 180 x 4GW power stations (Drax in Yorkshire being one.) by 2040. Drax is now half fired on woodchips from the USA. If 180 more were built to burn woodchips, then they would consume annually the entire yearly timber harvest of the USA (for any purpose),

      • Old Englander permalink
        January 29, 2018 5:32 pm

        I hope it’s “sarc” or it’s just wrong. Mr Foster’s back-of-envelope sum is pertinent. So is Paul’s opener: “The wood-pellet biomass industry has long maintained that it is only burning wood residues — the bits of trees left over from other uses. Wood that otherwise would have left on the forest floor and decomposed anyway. Environmental campaigners in the US have uncovered much evidence to indicate that this is not true, …”

        The problem is, there’s no way to tell the difference between a “renewable” wood pellet (from genuinely sustainable forestry waste) and one from blatantly non-renewable “clear-cut”. To do so you need a tracing of provenance equalled only by the fine-art world: is this wood pellet a genuine Renoir, or merely a skillful fake ?

        Drax claim they have this. Paul H’s prior essays (re NRDC, duplication of names on allegedly independent Boards etc) cast doubt.

        What’s going on here is quite simply burning firewood. Causes widespread environmental damage in developing countries with significant populations still living at subsistence level. Now we’re doing it on an industrial scale. Smart, eh ?

  8. January 26, 2018 10:43 pm

    If Germany and/or France decide to go for biomass in a big way it will be tree carnage. They will have to replace nuclear with something burnable or kiss their industries goodbye.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      January 27, 2018 9:39 am

      Most houses in rural Europe (and in urban areas too I think) use wood for domestic heating. Once this happens there’ll be a lot of excess winter deaths in the EU/Europe.

  9. January 26, 2018 11:50 pm

    “We are going to destroy the planet to save it”.

  10. JerryC permalink
    January 27, 2018 1:41 am

    The idea that they were just using “wood residues” was always ridiculous. A modern sawmill wastes nothing, every wood chip and grain of sawdust is recovered to make products like particle board and charcoal.

  11. Markl permalink
    January 27, 2018 4:26 am

    Once again. ….. ITS NOT ABOUT CLIMATE/TEMPERATURE. ITS ABOUT STOPPING THE USE OF FOSSIL FUELS. The only way to control nations is to reduce their industries to the lowest common denominator.

  12. Richard permalink
    January 27, 2018 10:00 am

    Scandalous. Reeks of corruption, self interest and not a little bribery.

  13. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 27, 2018 10:20 am

    Ridiculous, “coal based CO2 bad, wood based CO2 good”. How do they not see that growing trees removes CO2 but burning it increases it more than coal. It would take a lot more new trees to make up for those burned than to replace carbon dioxide from coal.

    However, as Drax is credited as half renewable to make things look more impressive, and costing a fortune into the bargain, the cover-up will continue.

  14. Gerry, England permalink
    January 27, 2018 12:29 pm

    The EU parliament used to just be a fig leaf to democracy and just a talking shop. That has changed so that is has some power to ask the Commission to look at something but it does not have the ultimate power within the EU triumvirate to get it put into action. The Commission and the Council still rule. The parliament will vote on the Brexit exit agreement as it requires all 3 to agree that even though it is just the Council that controls the negotiations.

  15. fmassen permalink
    January 27, 2018 12:42 pm

    There may be 800 scientists opposing the new EU decision to allow burning whole trees, but there is vocal group of 63 who write in Euractiv that wood burning is absolutely necessary…see here. Go figure!

  16. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 28, 2018 4:56 pm

    An interesting article by Jillian Ambrose today bemoaning the dependence of UK gas prices on world market.

    The controllers do not realise that the UK is now almost totally dependent upon imports and our storage virtually nil. Coal power is the only true long term storage that exists at present and will soon be gone

    • catweazle666 permalink
      January 29, 2018 12:04 am

      There’s lots of lovely fracced gas to be had from the Bowland Shales and other deposits, now the government has got its finger out and chased the lunatic demonstrators off.

  17. catweazle666 permalink
    January 29, 2018 12:03 am

    Somewhat ironic when we consider that one of – if not THE – main drivers of the Industrial Revolution, moving on from wooden to iron ships and from charcoal to coke burning to smelt iron was that Great Britain had chopped down most of the great forests for timber to build ships for the Royal Navy and to produce charcoal for metallurgical purposes.

    • dave permalink
      January 29, 2018 5:51 pm


      Necessity is the mother of invention. But if your inventions are smashed to pieces by maniac babies…

  18. John Steading permalink
    January 29, 2018 4:36 pm

    First the dogma, followed by the targets, then the insanity.

  19. January 30, 2018 4:33 am

    I just hope its forests of all the tree simpletons bought for carbon credits.

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