The UK's Energy Transitions Commission (ETC)'s latest report sets out how rapidly increasing demand for bioresources could outstrip sustainable supply, undermining climate mitigation efforts and harming biodiversity.

The report, Bioresources Within a Net-Zero Emissions Economy: Making a Sustainable Approach Possible, makes plain that while bioresources are in principle renewable, not all forms of biomass use are beneficial from an environmental perspective. To be sustainable, biomass production should have low life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Its production should take into account the 'opportunity cost' related to carbon that could be sequestered without intervention, and must not:

  • Compete with use of land for food production
  • Trigger any land use change that could release carbon stocks into the atmosphere (especially deforestation)
  • Negatively impact biodiversity and ecosystem health

The report recommends that biomass sources for use as energy should be limited to waste and residues, dedicated energy crop production on degraded/marginal lands, or where current crop/pastureland can be released.

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