Wood as a renewable fuel in Europe may have unintended consequences

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In New Jersey, a paper concluded that Europe’s decision to promote the use of wood as a renewable fuel will likely increase Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and cause severe harm to the world’s forests.

The paper co-authored by eight scientists from the United States and Europe, estimated that the bioenergy provision in the Renewable Energy Directive will lead to vast new cutting of the world’s forests. This is because additional wood equal to all of Europe’s existing wood harvests will be needed just to supply 5 percent of Europe’s energy.

“Globally, if the world were to supply only an additional 2 percent of its energy from wood, it would need to double commercial wood harvests around the world with harsh effects on forests,” said lead author Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a lecturer in the Princeton Environmental Institute.