Wood pellets cause more climate pollution than coal when they’re burned. So why does Europe call them ‘carbon neutral’?
The panel I was moderating on the wood pellet trade was bombing. Precious minutes disappeared as we waited for a PowerPoint to load. All three speakers exceeded their time, detailing every facet of the biomass industry rather than focusing on its climate impact, as I had (so naively!) suggested. Worst of all, throughout the 45-minute session that stood between cocktail hour and the attendees of the annual energy conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, the opposing sides didn’t seem to agree on even a narrow set of facts. Jen Jenkins, vice president at Enviva, the world’s largest pellet producer, said her industry helped solve the climate crisis: The pellets displace coal, and even though their combustion releases carbon emissions, those would be sucked out of the atmosphere by replanted trees.