2019: We Need An All-In Climate Strategy

January 14, 2019 |

By Seth Ginther, Executive Director, U.S. Industrial Pellets Association (USIPA)

Special to The Digest

2019 kicks off with a renewed focus on climate and the environment. The end of 2018 saw alarming reports on climate from both the United Nations and the U.S. government, as well as a renewed focus following the COP24 negotiations in Poland. And with the proposal for a Green New Deal garnering attention in Congress, and the environment poised to become a central campaign issue in the 2020 Presidential race, the momentum to address these climate concerns is already being felt in U.S. politics.

All of this points to a growing sense of urgency for action and solutions. There is no one panacea for climate change; rather, we need an all-of-the-above renewable energy strategy that includes wood biomass combined with other renewables like wind and solar.

Wind and solar are a critical part of the renewable energy mix but alone can’t meet our near-term ambitious climate goals. Wood biomass is a vital – but often overlooked – part of the renewable energy mix that solves for the intermittency of wind and solar, and it’s already helping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels like coal, today.

With more governments around the world mandating higher renewable energy usage, utilities are increasingly relying on wood biomass to help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution while still meeting power demand. And it’s working.

In the United Kingdom, where wood biomass is replacing coal, the government’s Environment Agency found that switching from coal to biomass sources like wood energy can reduce carbon emissions between 74 and 90 percent. Other studies similarly have proven the use of wood energy as a replacement for fossil fuels in fact reduces air pollutants like ash, nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, and other heavy metals harmful to both the environment and people.

At the same time, a strong wood energy industry is beneficial to the world’s forests. Research from the USDA Southern Forest Research Center has shown demand for wood pellets promotes sustainable practices in U.S. forests, reduces risks to U.S. forests, and results in increased inventory. In fact, from 2011 to 2016 forest inventories in the U.S. Southeast, which supply the fiber used to make wood energy, have increased by more than 150 million tons – that means more trees to capture atmospheric carbon.

The search for scalable, sustainable, renewable energy sources that transition the world away from fossil fuels is the challenge of our time. As we look ahead to 2019, we need to remind ourselves that we don’t have time to waste – that we have solutions today to begin the work necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change from materializing.

Wood biomass – scalable, sustainable, and renewable energy – is ready now to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lower global carbon emissions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Thought Leadership

Thank you for visting the Digest.