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Applying a science-based systems perspective to dispel misconceptions about climate effects of forest bioenergy

Cowie, Annette L. and Berndes, Goran and Bentsen, Niclas Scott and Brandao, Miguel and Cherubini, Francesco and Egnell, Gustaf and George, Brendan and Gustavsson, Leif and Hanewinkel, Marc and Harris, Zoe M. and Johnsson, Filip and Junginger, Martin and Kline, Keith L. and Koponen, Kati and Koppejan, Jaap and Kraxner, Florian and Lamers, Patrick and Majer, Stefan and Marland, Eric and Nabuurs, Gert-Jan and Pelkmans, Luc and Sathre, Roger and Schaub, Marcus and Smith, Charles Tattersall and Soimakallio, Sampo and Van der Hilst, Floor and Woods, Jeremy and Ximenes, Fabiano A. (2021). Applying a science-based systems perspective to dispel misconceptions about climate effects of forest bioenergy. GCB Bioenergy. 13 , 1210-1231
[Research article]

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Abstract

The scientific literature contains contrasting findings about the climate effects of forest bioenergy, partly due to the wide diversity of bioenergy systems and associated contexts, but also due to differences in assessment methods. The climate effects of bioenergy must be accurately assessed to inform policy-making, but the complexity of bioenergy systems and associated land, industry and energy systems raises challenges for assessment. We examine misconceptions about climate effects of forest bioenergy and discuss important considerations in assessing these effects and devising measures to incentivize sustainable bioenergy as a component of climate policy. The temporal and spatial system boundary and the reference (counterfactual) scenarios are key methodology choices that strongly influence results. Focussing on carbon balances of individual forest stands and comparing emissions at the point of combustion neglect system-level interactions that influence the climate effects of forest bioenergy. We highlight the need for a systems approach, in assessing options and developing policy for forest bioenergy that: (1) considers the whole life cycle of bioenergy systems, including effects of the associated forest management and harvesting on landscape carbon balances; (2) identifies how forest bioenergy can best be deployed to support energy system transformation required to achieve climate goals; and (3) incentivizes those forest bioenergy systems that augment the mitigation value of the forest sector as a whole. Emphasis on short-term emissions reduction targets can lead to decisions that make medium- to long-term climate goals more difficult to achieve. The most important climate change mitigation measure is the transformation of energy, industry and transport systems so that fossil carbon remains underground. Narrow perspectives obscure the significant role that bioenergy can play by displacing fossil fuels now, and supporting energy system transition. Greater transparency and consistency is needed in greenhouse gas reporting and accounting related to bioenergy.

Authors/Creators:Cowie, Annette L. and Berndes, Goran and Bentsen, Niclas Scott and Brandao, Miguel and Cherubini, Francesco and Egnell, Gustaf and George, Brendan and Gustavsson, Leif and Hanewinkel, Marc and Harris, Zoe M. and Johnsson, Filip and Junginger, Martin and Kline, Keith L. and Koponen, Kati and Koppejan, Jaap and Kraxner, Florian and Lamers, Patrick and Majer, Stefan and Marland, Eric and Nabuurs, Gert-Jan and Pelkmans, Luc and Sathre, Roger and Schaub, Marcus and Smith, Charles Tattersall and Soimakallio, Sampo and Van der Hilst, Floor and Woods, Jeremy and Ximenes, Fabiano A.
Title:Applying a science-based systems perspective to dispel misconceptions about climate effects of forest bioenergy
Series Name/Journal:GCB Bioenergy
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:13
Page range:1210-1231
Number of Pages:22
Publisher:WILEY
ISSN:1757-1693
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 2 Engineering and Technology > 207 Environmental Engineering > Energy Systems
Keywords:energy system transition, forest carbon stock, forest management, greenhouse gas accounting, landscape scale, reference system
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-112562
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-112562
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1111/gcbb.12844
Web of Science (WoS)000655119800001
ID Code:25001
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:24 Aug 2021 09:25
Metadata Last Modified:24 Aug 2021 09:32

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