On top of the simplistic claims that growing trees make burning forest biomass innocuous, the carbon accounting rules developed for the Kyoto Protocol and the way they have been applied has also enabled a false perception of carbon neutrality.

The IPCC recognised the emissive nature of biomass burning but in recommending how to account for it advised that the emissions impact be set at zero in the energy sector on the understanding that the emissions would be fully accounted in the land sector. This was meant to avoid double-counting. Not only is the zero in the energy sector misconstrued by some to mean that the impact is actually zero, but emissions from the land sector have never been comprehensively accounted and forest emissions from areas subject to logging not properly accounted at all.

[For a video on why bioenergy is not automatically carbon neutral see William Moomaw, respected professor and lead IPCC author, who gave a video speech to the European Parliament in 2015.]


The way that the IPCC has proposed measuring biomass burning is a matter of serious concern and debate at the international policy level. Failure to account for substantial forestry emissions due to flawed carbon accounting for the UN creates a false impression of the extent of emissions reduction by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol, but the actual impacts on the atmosphere are real.

More information on the use of forest biomass is here FACT SHEET Impacts of Using Native Forest Biomass for Energy

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