More "news" for biofuels
Posted: September 15, 2011
The New York Times reports that a new European Union committee study suggests that it has been “double counting” some of the savings from biofuel production. “The potential consequences of this bioenergy accounting error are immense since it assumes that all burning of biomass does not add carbon to the air,” the committee wrote. This has broad implications for biofuel policies. European countries may now reduce allowances for farmers and forest landowners to grow biofuel crops to meet emission targets.
The point is that although forests and trees sequester carbon there are emissions after harvest and it takes a while for forests to recover to the point of the carbon pool in the forest before the harvest (ie, the debt then dividend concept). This is not surprising really and I'm surprised the Europeans didn't realize this. They blame to “misapplication of the original guidance” under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The question is whether forests are growing faster overall than what's been harvested so the net sequestration during harvests is positive. It comes down to the scale of harvest and the time it takes for a forest to recover. This issue has already come up in our neck of the woods with the the infamous Manomet study which argued that biofuel production in Massachusetts is unsustainable.