UN forest accounting loophole allows CO2 underreporting

The CO2 Forest Accounting Loophole

  • Emissions accounting helps determine whether or not nations are on target to achieve their voluntary Paris Agreement reduction goals. Ideally, the global community’s CO2 pledges, adjusted downward over time, would, taken together, help keep the world from heating up by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 from a 1900 baseline.
  • But scientists are raising the alarm that this goal may already be beyond reach. One reason: a carbon accounting loophole within UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines accepting the burning of wood pellets (biomass) as a carbon neutral replacement for coal — with wood now used in many European Union and United Kingdom power plants.
  • Scientists warn, however, that their research shows that replacing coal with wood pellets in power plants is not carbon neutral. That’s partly because burning wood, which is celebrated by governments as a renewable and sustainable energy resource, is less efficient than coal burning, so it actually produces more CO2 emissions than coal.
  • Also, while wood burning and tree replanting over hundreds of years will end up carbon neutral, that doesn’t help right now. Over a short timeframe, at a historical moment when we require aggressive greenhouse gas reductions, wood burning is adding to global emissions. Analysts say that this loophole needs to be closed, and soon, to avoid further climate chaos.

https://news.mongabay.com/2018/05/un-forest-accounting-loophole-allows-co2-underreporting-by-eu-uk-us/

Where I live they are generating 800MW of power using biomass.

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Canadians Are Killing Forests – Biofuels, and especially wood pellets, actually worsen climate change

Canada is ramping up turning forests into wood pellets for Europe and Asia.

And generating a lot more CO2.

“Wood pellets are considered carbon neutral because as forests grow they can retrap carbon, but the designation has drawn criticism from environmentalist and academics who have questioned the equation.

John Sterman, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, published a paper earlier this year that argued burning pellets would release more carbon dioxide than coal in the short term because it was a less efficient source of energy.

The lag for when the carbon would potentially be reabsorbed to eventually make it carbon neutral is too long when emissions reduction is needed now, said Sterman in an interview.

“The next few decades, the rest of this century, this is the critical period,” said Sterman. “Biofuels, and especially wood pellets, actually worsen climate change over this period.”

There are also significant concerns about the reliability of the forest retrapping the carbon, since climate change is expected to increase the risks of forest fires and insect infestations, said Sterman.

“The EU has made this error, and accounting error. It’s just a false statement to say that biofuels are carbon neutral. They’re not neutral in the short run, and whether they’re neutral in the long run depends on the fate of the land.” “

Europeans Are Stupid

Europe’s energy policies are worse than stupid.

“At the end of last year, Sir John Beddington, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government, lifted the lid on the scandal at the heart of the EU’s renewable policies. According to Sir John, since the EU’s first renewables directive in 2008, the growth of bioenergy — much of it sourced from North American woods and forests — has provided around half the expansion of renewable energy. To supply even one third of the additional renewable energy needed to meet Europe’s new 2030 target will require an amount of wood roughly equivalent to the combined harvest in the U.S. and Canada. The fiction currently being peddled is that Europe is only burning wood residues — the bits of trees left over from other uses — but new EU rules agreed to last week by the European Parliament will expand the definition of bioenergy to include trees specifically harvested to be burnt in power stations.”

They love CO2 in Europe.

So Much For Tree Rings As A Temperature Proxy

So much for tree rings as a temperature proxy.

Huge Canadian Tree Growth Study.

Our analyses of a new methodologically standardized tree-ring dataset covering Canada’s boreal forest provide insights into the growth responses of this ecosystem to climate change. Although revealing no overarching “growth enhancement” or “growth decline” in recent years, results do point to significant regional- and species-related trends in growth. The observed link between climate variation and growth variability revealed unique evidence of an intensification of the impacts of hydroclimatic variability on growth late in the 20th century, in parallel with the rapid rise of summer temperature.

Such response can be attributed to annual growth variability in these forests being mainly driven by negative sensitivity to summer temperature (warmer summers leading to less growth) and positive sensitivity to summer soil moisture (more moisture leading to more growth)

 

Global Warming May Have Been Caused By Deforestation

Yesterday I wrote about trees being able to seed clouds. Lubos of the Reference Frame takes it further.

It’s been generally thought that the sulfuric acid was almost necessary. Chimneys (or volcano eruptions etc.) should increase cloudiness. However, there have been inconclusive hints in some papers that some organic molecules are enough. You may have worried: How could have the clouds existed in the past, before the chimneys were built? 😉

Jasper Kirkby and collaborators have found out that the molecules known as “aroma of the trees” may indeed do the same job and that is decisive in the pristine environments without chimneys.

More precisely, the molecules that can do the job are the “highly oxygenated molecules” (HOMs) which are produced by ozonolysis of α-pinene.

The lesson for “global warming” seems clear: deforestation may decrease the amount of aroma from the trees, and therefore the amount of clouds, and it may therefore lead to global warming.

This may be the explanation of the changes in the 20th century and because the deforestation is over, so may be “global warming”.

 

So … what other periods of global warming took place?

“The Roman Warm Period or the Roman climatic optimum has been proposed as a period of unusually warm weather in Europe and the North Atlantic that ran from approximately 250 BC to 400 AD”

What is Rome famous for (other than killing and conquering and so on)? Roman baths. What did the heat the baths with? Firewood.

“The baths were BIG; the Baths of Caracalla, completed in 235, could handle 8,000 visitors a day. Its 50 furnaces burned ten tons of wood every day to keep the water warm.

Deforestation was huge in Roman times.

Wood was a primary source of heating and used extensively in industry. Wood fuel constituted about 90 percent of the consumption overall,[citation needed] and was a major factor in Roman deforestation. Wood was essential fuel in industries like mining, smelting, and the making of ceramics.[4] Wood and charcoal were the primary ancient fuels in public facilities, households, public baths and industries that produced light and heat.

Forest areas around mining centers were deforested first, consuming all natural resources around the area of work. Once all the natural resources around the area of production were consumed, wood was then shipped and carried in to supply the furnaces and smelters for the mining centers. Eventually, these centers would shut down and move to areas within Roman territory to repeat the same cycle of deforestation, supplying an ever-growing population and consumption demand.

Deforestation and the fall of Rome :

In the ancient world, fossil fuels were unusual enough to be a curiosity, and certainly did not provide any major heating source. Almost all heating was done by wood and wood products1and while it may not seem like such a major factor it becomes a different story if you think about the Roman baths. The public baths2 were kept constantly at a minimum of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), and even a very small bath required 228,000lb (103,421kg) of wood per year. The Emperors recognised the importance of the baths in keeping the populace happy, and made keeping them running a primary goal. A whole guild, equipped with 60 ships, was created specifically for the purpose of obtaining bath-heating wood. Large palaces and villas also often had personal central heating systems; one such system has been evaluated and determined to require 2,506,000lb (1,136,722kg) of wood per year in order to properly heat the villa.

Trees Can Seed Clouds!

This discovery is huge. Trees can seed clouds.

Molecules released by trees can seed clouds, two experiments have revealed. The findings, published on 25 May in Nature1, 2 and Science3, run contrary to an assumption that the pollutant sulphuric acid is required for a certain type of cloud formation — and suggest that climate predictions may have underestimated the role that clouds had in shaping the pre-industrial climate.

If the results of the experiments hold up, predictions of future climate change should take them into account, says Reto Knutti, a climate modeller at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). For 20 or more years, clouds have been the largest source of uncertainty in understanding how manmade emissions affect the atmosphere, he says.

In addition to releasing carbon dioxide, burning fossil fuels indirectly produces sulphuric acid, which is known to seed clouds. So, climate scientists have assumed that since pre-industrial times, there has been a large increase in cloud cover, which is thought to have an overall cooling effect by reflecting sunlight back into space. And they have assumed that this overall cooling effect has partially masked the climate’s underlying sensitivity to rising carbon dioxide levels. The latest experiments suggest that it may have been cloudier in pre-industrial times than previously thought.

If this is so, then the masking effect, and in turn the warming effects of carbon dioxide, might have been overestimated, says Jasper Kirkby, a physicist at the CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, who led one of the experiments.