The UN’s Stupid Plan to Fight Climate Change with Biomass

Coal is a filthy way to produce energy. Everything about it–from extraction to transportation to combustion–has a negative impact on the environment. The good news is, the coal industry is dying. Finally.

Surely we’ve learned our lesson and can now throw our full weight behind clean, renewable energy like solar and wind power, right? Not if the United Nations gets to carry out a stupid plan recently discovered in documents leaked to the Guardian.

Three days after new analysis of biomass power plants are more polluting and worse for the climate than coal, investigators discovered a draft report from the UN climate panel that includes “a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground,” reports the Guardian.

Wait, what?! If the implied logic there makes your head hurt, you’re not alone. Maybe we’re just not smart enough. Let’s take another look:

“Proponents of the technique – known as bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – suggest that regrown trees and crops might sequester additional carbon, making the technology ‘negative emission’ because it might reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“It is part of broader group of geoengineering technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the air – most of them experimental – that the IPCC is now forecasting may require ‘large-scale deployment’ to keep global warming below rises of 2C.”

Anyone else notice a few scary words in there? Words like “might” and “experimental”? Yeah, that’s because we know almost nothing about geoengineering–except that it probably won’t work and the side effects would likely be worse than whatever we’re trying to fix. Even these words are too optimistic when the technique is examined in light of what we already know about biomass. Here’s more from Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) and author of the new analysis mentioned previously:

“The biomass power industry portrays their facilities as ‘clean,” said Booth. “But we found that even the newest biomass plants are allowed to pollute more than modern coal- and gas-fired plants, and that pollution from bioenergy is increasingly unregulated.”

The report revealed that biomass power plants across the country are “permitted to emit more pollution” than coal plants or commercial waste incinerators, are “subsidized by state and federal renewable energy dollars,” are “given special treatment and held to lax pollution control standards,” and “markedly inefficient.” That last bit means they emit almost 50 percent more CO2 than coal per unit of energy produced.

According to the Guardian, even the UN draft report admits that “the potential costs and risks of BECCS are subject to considerable scientific uncertainty,” and the most recent UN report on climate change impacts advised that such CO2 removal technologies “might invite complacency regarding mitigation efforts.”

If we know all this, why in the world is the UN Climate Panel, a body that’s supposed to be working on real solutions for slowing climate change, pushing the preposterous idea that biomass and sequestration is somehow a good idea? Maybe it’s because one of the co-chairs of the UN report’s drafting team, Prof Ottmar Edenhofer, is a long-time cheerleader for the BECCS technology. The Guardian also hints at pressure from Russia.

Either way, let’s hope this report is the only bit of biomass the UN burns any time soon.

Image via Thinkstock


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Warren Webber
Warren Webber1 years ago

Live long and prosper!

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

Learn from Mother Nature.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

opp's The Future Of Renewable Energy: Why Ontario Is Finally Going…

Read more:

ScoTT S.
ScoTT S.2 years ago

Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes says about the Dangerous Old Woman "she is the protectoress - she is la conquista - she is the one who takes care of and looks after the ones who have been conquered - she is the one who raises them back up again - she will protect anything that has goodness or electricity in it - ... - and this is why you'll see the old women who are fixing up broken flowers, and after a storm, they won't be throwing away the brush - they won't be tearing the trees down with their saws - they'll be putting poultices around the broken limbs, and trying to mend them - because they know that a tree returns ten times its weight in goodness to us, and they will preserve everything that they can that should never be allowed to perish from this earth, before its time, or ever"

Deborah P.
Deb P.2 years ago

one take on a town dealing with torrefication emissions

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

@ John W; This is why I am 100% behind nuclear power.

Seriously after Fukishima Japan?

If you live around the Great Lakes check this insanity out, there have been 2 tremors in the last 4 years below Nipigon Bay in Lake Superior where they are looking at burying this toxic crap! Some Ice fisherman 4 winters ago thought they were in Yellowstone Park with the water shooting up out of their ice fishing holes! Nuclear Waste Burial Site Selection Process

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

@ Christine S; We should concentrate on roof top solar first- to get every last bit of energy available during daylight hours.

There is a definite advantage to more homestead based solar power. But in Ontario Canada under their Greed Energy Program with contracts for 10 kw + Solar Farms
where they were paying 1,500 % more @ 0.80 cents a kw. than the Base rate @ 0.051 cents before $mart Meter$. They were also forcing homeowners to buy equipment sourced in Ontario. People were paying an average of $124,000.oo for 10 kw when a nuts & bolts hardware store in MN was selling 8.5 kw for $31,500.oo, so my estimate was they would want $35,000.oo for 10 kw.

So we have to research / research Green Energy Sales hype to make sure it is not Greed based.

But about the rooftop installation's has there been research about possible health effects of living under something that MAYBE creating an ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD? I know an automaker with hybrids that quickly QUIT putting Solar panels on the roofs of their cars!

John W.
.2 years ago

This is why I am 100% behind nuclear power.

ScoTT S.
ScoTT S.2 years ago

Let's think for a moment - trees naturally convert CO2 into oxygen, right? So burning them is more efficient than what nature has already provided? Are you sure?