Statement on the work of Forest Research (2018)
With more ambitious EU emissions and renewable energy targets being legislated for in 2021 and the re-opening of the Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001 (RED II), the European Climate Foundation (ECF) sees an opportunity to highlight insights from an ECF commissioned report into large-scale bioenergy.
In 2018, the ECF asked Forest Research to provide a supplementary analysis and interpretation of a detailed modelling exercise it had undertaken as part of the European Commission’s Bioimpact Project  during preparations for the Renewable Energy Directive II.
At the request of the ECF, Forest Research used insights into EU bioenergy policy that it had gained from the Bioimpact Project to deliver a Statement of Risk as to the use of bioenergy to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets. The statement was as follows:
It should also be noted that Forest Research’s ‘Consequential Lifecycle Analyses’ for the Bioimpact Report – reproduced for the 2018 report – showed that the scenario that made the least use of bioenergy, and greatest use of zero-emissions renewables such as wind and solar (Scenario D), delivered the best climate outcomes in the next 30 years. Furthermore, the scenario that relied heavily on imported wood (Scenario C1) – which reflects many current business models in the bioenergy sector – delivered one of the worst climate outcomes. The difference between the best practice and worst practice amounts to 148 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030, which is significant . The authors observed that:
To a significant extent, this negative impact on climate outcomes from forest bioenergy reflects the carbon payback period of different feedstocks, an issue which has also been highlighted by the European Academies Science Advisory Council  in a 2019 paper titled ‘Serious mismatches continue between science and policy in forest bioenergy‘. 
 Robert Matthews, Nigel Mortimer, Jan Peter Lesschen, Tomi J Lindroos, Laura Sokka, Allison Morris, Paul Henshall, Charlotte Hatto, Onesmus Mwabonje, Jeremy Rix, Ewan Mackie and Marc Sayce (2015). “Carbon impact of biomass consumed in the EU: quantitative assessment”. Final project report, project: DG ENER/C1/427. Forest Research: Farnham.
 See, for example, Spatial Informatics Group (2019) or Ceccherini, G., Duveiller, G., Grassi, G. et al. “Abrupt increase in harvested forest area over Europe after 2015”. Nature 583, 72–77 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2438-y
 The 2030 emissions reductions associated with each scenario are displayed in Table 5.1 on page 30. It must be remembered that these reductions come from the economy-wide decarbonisation measures taken for each scenario.
 The perspective of the European Academies Science Advisory Council can be found at this link: https://easac.eu/media-room/press-releases/details/leading-scientists-warn-wood-pellets-threat-to-climate-no-silver-pellet/
 Norton, M, Baldi, A, Buda, V, et al. Serious mismatches continue between science and policy in forest bioenergy. GCB Bioenergy. 2019; 11: 1256– 1263. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12643