New Infographic from Dogwood Alliance Shows How Southern US Forests Are Fueling Climate Change

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New infographic from Dogwood Alliance shows how forests destruction to feed European energy demand is increasing carbon emissions and further exacerbating the climate crisis.

New infographic illustrates how forest destruction is fueling climate change

Although the forests of the Southern United States are an important component of the fight against climate change, they are increasingly being logged to power Europe further exacerbating the climate crisis

A new infographic from Asheville, North Carolina-based environmental non-profit Dogwood Alliance clearly illustrates how the forests of the Southern US are being logged at an increasing rate to fuel European electricity demand and further increasing carbon emissions.

The world’s attention is focused on Paris for the COP-21 climate treaty negotiations, where international negotiators are attempting to hammer out a treaty to address the rapidly growing threat of climate change. It is vital that negotiators reevaluate the role of forests and upgrade the thinking to 21st century ideals – especially when it comes to the forests of the Southern US.

“Although the forests of the Southern United States are an important component of the fight against climate change, they are increasingly being logged to power Europe, further exacerbating the climate crisis,” said Adam Macon, Campaign Director at Dogwood Alliance. “This new infographic clearly illustrates how this is happening and why society need to change course.”

The Southern US is the leading exporter of wood pellets for electricity globally. Projections of continued growth in Western Europe led by the UK - from 5 million tons in 2015 to over 35 million tons in 2020 - are staggering. (1) In addition to impacting forests which are the planet's best defense against climate change, increased logging for this industry leads to loss of important wildlife habitat, degradation of water quality, and negative health and economic impacts on local communities. (2)

Ranging from Virginia to Louisiana, there has been a massive growth in the wood pellet industry responding to growing demand from European utilities. With over 20 existing wood pellet mills and another 25 in various stages of proposal and development, the Southern US has become the largest wood pellet export region in the world. (3) Companies like Enviva are continuing to propose and build new facilities on a regular basis. (4)

Much of the demand is being driven by the United Kingdom and its principle importing utility Drax, while other countries have chosen to meet European carbon emission reduction goals by investing in greater onshore and offshore wind and solar. (5) A recent report from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has cast a doubt over the true climate benefits of burning wood for electricity. (6)

(1) "The Wood Pellet Market" by Poyry posted on World Wide Recyling website. Last retrieved on December 9, 2015.
(2) “Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests,” by the Biomass Energy Resource Center, Forest Guild, and Spatial Informatics Group. Published in February 2012.
(3) “Pellet Plants,” by Biomass Magazine. Last retrieved on December 9, 2015.
(4) “Wood Pellet Domes Will Change Wilmington Skyline,” by Gareth McGrath. Published August 10, 2014 in the Wilmington Star-News.
(5) "How world's biggest green power plant is actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions and Britain's energy bill," by David Rose. Published June 6, 2015 in the Daily Mail.
(6) “Biomass Report Adds to the Debate on Power Station Subsidies,” by Pilita Clark. Published July 23, 2014 in the Financial Times.

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Scot Quaranda
Dogwood Alliance
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