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EU climate law could cause ‘catastrophic’ deforestation

September 13, 2018

By Paul Homewood


From the I told you so dept.

The Guardian reports:



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 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”.

“This amounts to sawing off the branch on which humanity sits,” he told the Guardian.

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.

Nino Aveni, a spokesman for the Bioenergy Europe trade association, argued that new saplings could reabsorb the CO2 emitted by fully grown burned trees within “years to decades”.

“Sustainability criteria are a guarantee that existing forest protection measures are applied to wood used for bioenergy production,” he said. “EU member states have already strong forest policies in place.”

An EU official confirmed that the new analysis was accurate – and said that if anything, it underestimated the scale of the problem.

The directive “really will [spark] a race to the bottom because there is no inherent limit to the potential over-harvesting,” the source said. “There is a high risk that it will involve the possibility of increasing emissions with no possibility of any greenhouse gas savings at all.”

The magnitude of the problem – which eminent academics last year described as “a critical flaw” in EU climate policy – was not understood within the EU, the source claimed.

“Partly that is because of wishful thinking,” the official said. “Partly it is so fundamentally wrong that most people would not believe it could be as wrong as it is.”

  1. dave permalink
    September 13, 2018 6:49 pm

    “…wholly unexpected source…”

    The scammers always knew. The ‘useful idiots’ however are now going…DUH!

  2. Stonyground permalink
    September 13, 2018 6:55 pm

    You beat me to it. It was only unexpected if you are a complete and utter imbecile. It was completely obvious to anyone with a gram of intelligence.

  3. markl permalink
    September 13, 2018 7:03 pm

    The ongoing shoot – ready – aim policies of the Green Blob will eventually destroy man. We need politicians, and people, to stand up to these useful idiots and call them out instead of caving in to their demands.

  4. John Scott permalink
    September 13, 2018 7:23 pm

    On average the time cycle of Bio-mass will be 50 years in cold climate trees grow much slower. What is not included, is the amount of airborne particulate released into the atmosphere along with small – remember campfires and bonfires. Burning wet wood from newly felled trees is dirty and inefficient. Close a coal mine and deforest the world.

  5. September 13, 2018 7:30 pm

    A scientific study is undertaken. The results are announced and they are not good.

    But wait, it’s worse!

    “An EU official confirmed that the new analysis was accurate – and said that if anything, it underestimated the scale of the problem.”

    Why did the scientists bother getting their arses out of bed then? All we need are EU officials to make pronouncements on everything and the world will be a better place.

    Except that they couldn’t work out what a drunk could on a beer mat, that chopping down trees at a rate of knots is what deforested much of the northern hemisphere in the first place. 30 seconds to cut down and strip a tree……5 years to grow it.

    Is it just me?

    We definitely need a hard Brexit.

    • Stonyground permalink
      September 13, 2018 7:49 pm

      Well the ignoramuses running the EU think that you can reduce your CO2 emissions by being made to buy a kettle that uses half as much energy for twice as long. Science isn’t really their strong point is it?

      • dave permalink
        September 13, 2018 8:42 pm

        I once attended a lecture by a scientist who had been involved in establishing permissible limits for certain contaminants. We agreed that the limits were one thousand times lower than the level which measurement could detect. As he gently pointed out this was not his fault but that of the politicians and officials in Brussels who actually wrote the limits into law – and who did not know the difference between a billion and a million when expressed in scientific notation.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        September 14, 2018 1:52 pm

        The promotion of energy efficiency is actually a good idea when you look at the costs of building powerstations (dealing in sensible terms here so ignoring the stupid wind and sun). If you could make small reductions in demand then you can add it up to save the need for a new powerstation. It also acts as an incentive to industries to research. But it can easily go wrong and can end up costing the economy more than the saving. For example, compact fluorescent lamps can’t be used in enclosed light fittings as they will overheat and fail. So there is a cost from new fittings. LEDs are a better alternative and are improving all the time. The kettle one is a bit of joke since the amount of energy to raise the temperature of a given volume of water is pretty fixed – let’s ignore altitude and other elements in the water. So unless you can deliver the energy more efficiently – ie not just a smaller element – it will just take longer and use the same energy.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      September 14, 2018 1:56 pm

      A hard Brexit will ensure that we follow EU environmental practices as when we are begging for a trade deal to save what we can from our crashing economy, environmental regulations will be front and centre in the deal. We will have to remain committed to the Paris Agreement. The intelligent route out of the EU by joining Efta would mean we can dump all of that, especially if we don’t stay in the Single Energy Market.

  6. September 13, 2018 7:35 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  7. kshadeslady permalink
    September 13, 2018 7:44 pm

    I recently returned from a wonderful trip to the Scottish Highlands. While there we visited and took a guided tour of the Isle of Skye. When we asked why they were clear cutting the trees, he told us that they were cutting the trees down in these huge sections for timber but they were replanting. However it takes 50-80 years for them to grow back to full size. I wonder if this is part of this current craziness about carbon footprints.

    • Colin permalink
      September 14, 2018 5:11 am

      I come from that area and know a fair bit about commercial forestry… These trees have been planted and harvested since the Great War when Britain experienced timber shortages. Clear felling is the normal method of harvesting and takes place 30 or 40 years after planting. This is established practise since the 1940s. I remember 30 years ago being asked by a German tourist whether the clear felling in my native glen was due to acid rain!

    • September 14, 2018 12:43 pm

      I realize you are speaking of highly managed forests. However, if you want a forest to naturally return to original diversity, clear-cutting or fire or blow-down, etc are necessary to return it to “bare” mineral soil. Then you allow succession to proceed with the first sun-tolerant, fast-growing species. Here it is tulip poplar, wild cherry, sumac, black locust, etc. They provide the shade which the hardwoods need to germinate and live as they are sun-intolerant in early stages. So you then have oaks, hickories, maples, ash, etc. growing taller and eventually taking over as the dominant species. In NC, you would get loblolly pine as the dominant first successional species along with tulip poplar, sumac, etc.

      • dave permalink
        September 14, 2018 1:30 pm

        My understanding of the succession of plants is that there never is any true climax or perpetual state. It just seems so to our comparatively short-lived selves.

      • September 14, 2018 3:57 pm

        Dave–somewhat correct. I started out in college in 1962 with “climax beech-maple forest” for the eastern US. As time has gone be and more people looked into the situation, it has changed. However, today’s scientists are of no real use as they are stuck on the stupid of man-caused climate change.

        What was found in the ’70’s and ’80’s was that there was never a trackless wilderness. For one thing the Indians burned the heck our of areas for game (they need edge and browse, not trackless wilderness) and for travel.

        Studies showed that we are a patchwork instead of “perpetual climax”. However, there are areas which go to that beech maple, but they aren’t vast. Patchwork is caused by fire, insect infestation, wind throw, animal browse, etc. A lot of the prairie areas were the result of soil, water and especially animal browse–bison.

  8. buchanlad permalink
    September 13, 2018 9:04 pm

    Ah but scots sitka forests being cut rapidly just now to feed the ravenous demands of the new subsidy driven biomass boilers . Another example of disastrous policy outcomes from Climate Alarmism and our own dear catastrophic Climate Change Act . Its a mad world getting madder . But at least the ice in the Arctic is growing nicely .

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      September 13, 2018 10:29 pm

      Personally I would like to see all Sitka plantations replaced by more native and mixed plantations.

      • Mack permalink
        September 13, 2018 11:48 pm

        In 1900, 90% of ‘managed’ woodland and moor in Dumfries & Galloway was native broadleaf and scrub and home to, funnily enough, 90% of the UK population of the exceedingly rare Black Grouse. Skip forward to just over a century later and almost an equivalent percentage of ‘managed’ woodland in D&G is now non native spruce and has little cover. And the Black Grouse? Almost extinct. Normally, I rail against those who bang on about causation and correlation without strong evidence but, in this case, it is clear that if you remove or markedly change a favourable habitat for a particular species it has a tendency to remove the species in question. That’s not rocket science is it?

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        September 14, 2018 8:19 am

        I grew up in rural Perthshire, with a site where Black Grouse had their Lek every year fairly close by. A great sight and a sign of spring. There were also various spruce and Sitka plantations close by these were impenetrable wildlife deserts. Whereas the odd bits of native Scots Pine, Heather and Hazel were inhabited by all sorts of things.
        So I agree with you 100%

  9. Phillip Bratby permalink
    September 13, 2018 9:05 pm

    Better not tell Clare Perry about Drax. She thinks the idea of burning wood pellets imported from the USA is a great idea that we consumers should pay through the nose for. We are governed by idiots; but it is not obvious which are the bigger idiots, those in the EU or those in the UK.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      September 13, 2018 10:13 pm

      I reckon the way the Brexit talks are going, shows that!

    • September 14, 2018 12:47 pm

      I wonder if the folks along coastal North Carolina and South Carolina are mourning the loss of the riverine forests which Drax cut and hauled to Germany? With Hurricane Florence dumping feet of water on them, there is nothing to either soak it up or stem the flow. No meanders here, no swamp forests here, no lagoons here. All gone.

  10. September 13, 2018 9:11 pm

    Add to the mix wood pellets imported from America to power Drax then you have the stupidity of our energy policy!!!

  11. frederik wisse permalink
    September 13, 2018 9:56 pm

    The breaking of the back of the coalworkers-unions by Margareth Thatcher has some farreaching dire consequences ,dressup as ecological sustainable policy . To condemn CO2, the oxygen of plants , made matters only worse and we are going to eat the consequences of this idioacy , unless mother nature will teach us how unimportant we are .

  12. Pethefin permalink
    September 14, 2018 6:55 am

    A bit disappointing to see such uncritical swallowing of yet another alarm by the green alarmists camp. At least in Finland, such claims of deforestation due to standard forest management are seen as naive green propaganda. Old trees stop growing and therefore consume less CO2. Furthermore, old trees will sooner or later start to decay. Why waste all the raw material for paper, furniture etc, or the energy stored in the old trees by letting them decay instead of removing them in time and replacing them with young forest that consumes and thereby stores more CO2? If the greens were truly environmental-friendly they would promote log houses instead of such a ridiculous “deforestation” alarm. It’s not about deforestation but reforestation.

  13. September 14, 2018 9:42 am

    it will count energy created from the burning of whole trees as “carbon neutral”

    Obviously CO2 levels must either be a totally non-urgent problem, or no problem at all.

  14. September 14, 2018 12:52 pm

    The idea that burning trees is somehow “carbon neutral” is laughable. Burning wood actually puts more carcinogens into the atmosphere than does the burning of coal. It is also less efficient. I noticed the photo showed a conifer. These have soft and fast burning wood. Conifers contain a lot of resins which are not good for burning as they leave a residue. Here we don’t use them in fireplaces as the resin deposit build-ups in chimneys can catch on fire.

    • tom0mason permalink
      September 15, 2018 9:55 pm

      If CO2 from burning wood is ‘carbon neutral’ then so are cattle farts!

  15. Rudolph Hucker permalink
    September 15, 2018 8:50 pm

    Claire Perry et al should heed the words of Mark Twain,
    ” It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and appear a fool rather than open it and remove any possible doubt”.

  16. Arthur Clapham permalink
    September 16, 2018 5:17 pm

    Does anyone know the conversion costs at Drax to go from coal to wood pellets. I believe there was a short rail journey for coal which can be stored outdoors in weathers. I assume large buildings had to built at great cost to store pellets as they would useless if wet!
    Does someone know the shipping and storage costs for this crazy enterprise?

  17. Arthur Clapham permalink
    September 16, 2018 7:00 pm

    Thank you Paul,even worse than I expected, as an aside,a wind turbine sited in our area was struck by lightning a few weeks ago and caught fire. I am told that it is guarded by one person during the day and two overnight it is not close to a main road, why?

  18. saparonia permalink
    September 16, 2018 7:12 pm

    The EU is a joke. I’m starting to wonder if Eisenhower and the rest of the new world mob did actually surrender.
    Lets all write to these idiots and tell them that living trees actually consume CO2, a lot more than digging them up and burning them will.

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