Biomass burning

The trouble with biomass


The wood pellet industry was meant to be about using wood waste but has grown to include the use of whole trees to be burned as biomass. However biomass burning is worse than burning coal due to wood’s moisture content. The problem arose with the demand for an alternative to coal along with massive subsidies for the biomass industry and therefore has resulted in huge pressures on forests in southern United States, the Baltic States, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. As a result trees from all over the world have been cut down to feed Europe’s voracious biomass burning industry.


EU loophole

An EU loophole has meant that biomass and biofuels are considered to be carbon-neutral however they are not. Drax, in Yorkshire, for example, is one of the worst offenders for burning trees for energy.


Growing BC wood pellet industry

Approximately 12 percent of trees logged in BC become wood pellets to be burned. For instance BC is the largest area producing wood pellets in the world and nearly all of it goes to Asia and Europe.  While the biomass industry says the wood pellet industry employs large numbers of people the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that only nearly 300 people are employed in the sector. However far more jobs could be generated by returning to producing lumber and wood products and ending the practice of exporting raw logs.


Drax purchase of Pinnacle Renewable Energy imperils British Columbia forests

In April 2021 Drax Group from the UK received a final order from BC Supreme Court approving their acquisition of Pinnacle Renewable Energy further imperiling BC’s forests. This is such a bad idea that many environmental organizations signed on to a letter to shareholders from Biofuelwatch, an environmental advocacy group from the UK,  asking them to vote against this takeover. It turns out that Pinnacle is sourcing trees from boreal and temperate forests critical to preventing to protecting against flooding, erosion and droughts and protecting biodiversity and appears to be using whole trees from primary forests. In addition the NRDC writes that the Drax purchase of Pinnacle would implicate the UK in the loss of Canadian forests.


Forest emergency and fake renewables

Biomass burning and cutting trees down for wood pellets is contributing to the forest emergency and affecting microclimates.

At what point do governments take deforestation seriously and put a stop to this way of producing energy? Above all it is critical that we protect what little old growth is left and put a stop to biomass burning if we want to protect our microclimates and provide the maximum number of jobs for forestry workers.















Smithers – Credit:


Biomass News Articles


New York Times Europe Is Sacrificing Its Ancient Forests for Energy | Sep  2022

The Guardian Burning forests for energy isn’t ‘renewable’ – now the EU must admit it | Sep  2022

Corporate Knights Will Drax’s claim that burning Canadian wood pellets is green go up in smoke? | Aug  2022

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Burning biomass: a Drax-tic idea, and bad for environmental justice | May 2022

Mongabay Missing the emissions for the trees: Biomass burning booms in East Asia | May 2022

The Tyee Cut Down Trees Just to Burn Them? We Can Do Better | March 2022

The Walrus Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Forests | March 2022

Corporate Knights Tree-burning Drax power plants dropped from green energy index | Jan 2022

One Earth Dangerous delusions: biomass is not a renewable energy source | Oct 2021

Skydda Skogen –  Leaked EU proposal for biomass reform denounced as dangerous greenwashing by NGOs | June 2021

Houston TodayPellet producers defend raw material use | April 2021

The New York Times There’s a booming business in America’s forests. Some aren’t happy about it. | April 2021

Mongabay –  Dutch to limit forest biomass subsidies, possibly signaling EU sea change | March 2021

Politico The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet | March 2021

Stand.earthDrax shareholders put Canadian forest, wildlife and the climate at risk by voting for acquisition of Canadian pellet company | March 2021

Policy NoteTrees to pellets? | Feb 2021

The Narwhal Fort Nelson, B.C., forest on chopping block for wood pellets | Feb 2021

The NarwhalB.C. gives Pacific Bioenergy green light to log rare inland rainforest for wood pellets | Oct 2020

Business in VancouverTrees harvested for biomass energy under scrutiny | April 2020

National Observer BC says firms can chop down whole trees for pellet fuel if they are ‘inferior’ | April 2020

Halifax ExaminerNova Scotia is destroying its forests by chasing the biomass delusion | February 2018


Biomass Resources


Axe Drax –  Drax’s destructive practices

BiofuelwatchBiomass Basics

Birdlife International – Bioenergy

Conservation North – Why is BC allowing the logging of primary forest for pellets?

Dogwood Alliance – Our forests are not fuel



Forest Defenders Alliance –  EU forests

Federatie Tegen Biomassacentrales –  Federation Against Biomass Power Plants

MongabayBiomass articles

Partnership for Policy IntegrityBiomass energy overview

Southern Environmental Law CenterBiomass Energy in the South

Stand.earthForests and wood pellets

Stop Bad Biofuels –   Deforestation from European demand for biofuels 



Biomass Burning Reports

FernUnsustainable and Ineffective: Why EU Forest Biomass Standards won’t stop destruction – Fern

NRDCGlobal Markets for Biomass Energy are Devastating U.S. Forests

Stand.earthCanada’s growing wood pellet export industry threatens forests, wildlife and our climate



Films and Videos

Birdlife International The Burning Issue – When bioenergy goes bad

BurnedAre trees the new coal?

Stand.earthBeyond Burning, narrated by Emma Thompson


Biomass hashtags




















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Biomass Petitions


Conservation North – protect primary forests now

TAKE ACTION Stop logging whole trees for wood pellets



YouMoveEurope The EU must protect forests not burn them for energy



Cut Carbon Not Forests Say NO to burning trees for energy



Rainforest Rescue Is burning trees the new coal? Say NO to fake “renewables”!



Old growth petitions




Background image by   Andrew Coelho on Unsplash