Europe Carbon Trade Would Gain Extra $1.1 Billion From Biomass

(Bloomberg) — European carbon trading will probably bring
in as much as an extra 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) a year to
combat climate change if wood-burning power stations are
included in the system for limiting greenhouse-gas emissions.

The assumption that burning wood doesn’t mean more carbon
because greenhouse gases are sucked up by growing trees ignores
the effect of changes in land use, emissions from transporting
the so-called biomass and unsustainable operations, said a
report from the Transport & Environment campaign group, BirdLife
Europe and the European Environmental Bureau.

The 7 percent of all emissions in the system from biomass
are now assumed to be carbon neutral, meaning the amount of
carbon released equals the amount absorbed, according to the
authors. Changing that may bring in 630 million euros to 1
billion euros into the system, while at least half of that would
be reinvested in climate-related measures, they said.

“Giving biomass a zero-rating in the ETS is like signing a
blank check,” said Carlos Calvo Ambel, an energy policy analyst
at T&E. “We’ve seen many examples of where a lack of both
sustainability criteria and full carbon accounting for biomass
led to more carbon emissions.”

The European Commission is reviewing its Emissions Trading
System, which gives emitters allowances to release greenhouse
gases and lets them trade those that they don’t use, to extend
the program to 2030. Of the 3.6 billion euros the system made in
2013, 3 billion euros was used for climate and energy measures.

Biomass demand is forecast to rise 40 percent by 2020 and
at least 15 percent will have to be imported, the report said,
citing figures from the commission. Moreover, the time lag from
the release of carbon dioxide from burning to its being absorbed
by plant growth can be from zero to 500 years.

European Union member states are turning to biomass as it
produces cleaner power and heat while still producing energy
around-the-clock unlike renewables such as solar and wind.
Renewables represent about 24.2 percent of total electricity
generation in the EU, with 18.7 percent of that from biomass,
according to a report from the European Biomass Association.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Louise Downing in London at
ldowning4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Tony Barrett

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