Energy and Environment

Subsidies for high-carbon biomass sell Net Zero short


In the Media
Government and Institutions

Matthew Lesh writes in The Telegraph

Christopher Snowdon writes in Reaction

IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon has written for Reaction discussing his new briefing paper highlighting government subsidies for high-carbon woody biomass energy.

Christopher wrote:

“Burning imported wood pellets creates a similar amount of greenhouse gas emissions as coal and much more than natural gas. It creates infinitely more carbon dioxide than nuclear, wind and solar while also pumping sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. It is nevertheless heavily subsidised in the UK – to the tune of £617 million in 2022 – and this week saw the government launch a public consultation on whether the subsidies should continue. 

“Most of the trees burnt by Drax in the UK are grown in North America and that is where the carbon emissions are counted. Drax is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK energy sector, producing 13.3 megatons in 2020, but on paper it emits nothing.

“There are plenty of options and the government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners. Instead, they should set what Milton Friedman called ‘the rules of the game’  and allow the best solutions to emerge from free competition, albeit with a mechanism to internalise the externalities of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Read Christopher’s full piece here.

Read a copy of Trees for burning: the biomass controversy here.