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Biomass: EU blow to forests

The Drax biomass storage domes under construction in 2013. Photo Department of Energy and Climate Change (CC BY-ND 2.0).

On 13 September, the European Parliament voted to keep the definition of woody biomass as renewable energy. The EU will remain the world’s largest consumer of wood pellets. In 2021, it produced nearly 20 million tonnes of wood pellets itself, while importing another 3.7 million tonnes, mostly from the USA. US shipments of pellets to EU member states have soared with the energy crisis.

The EU decision will hasten the destruction of forests in Europe and North America. It lets logging companies carry on destroying forests, adding carbon to the atmosphere. Forests in Finland and Estonia, once key assets for reducing carbon from the air, are now net carbon emitters.

Forests degraded by clear-cutting are more flammable, as shown by the fires across Europe in the summer. Bad forest management, driven by profit, was responsible.

• See feature article on Drax.