Replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy only takes us backwards, continuing our addiction to burning and extraction, and causing extensive ecological damage.
The bioenergy industry gives the impression of being at the forefront of tackling climate change. Every wood pellet that’s burned communicates the illusion of innovative progress away from fossil fuels and towards ‘renewable’ energy.
In the context of our urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is easy to be persuaded by a strategy which can supposedly help steer us away from impending doom.
Before I took my job working to protect forests I was under the impression that bioenergy was something positive.
Since humans first discovered how to create fire about 1.5 million years ago, our ability to harness the flames has sustained us, warmed us, and fed us.
Most of the world is fiercely globalised and intensely capitalist, focusing on – or subjected to – short-term economic gain.
Societies in the global north have become demanding and consumerist, reaching ever further afield for products to satisfy our desires. We have plunged deep into oil wells, and exploited pristine, ecologically priceless ecosystems in the Arctic and Amazon.
Burning materials to produce energy continues to drive our modern society.
Many people will have heard and agree with the slogan ‘keep it in the ground’ in reference to coal, oil and gas. The need to do so could not be more pressing, as we teeter on the brink of global climate catastrophe.
A crisis is already playing out around us – more noticeably in some parts of the world than in others, and exerting greater pressure and injustice on certain communities than on others.
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