Heating debate: environmental groups warn against new wood-fired heating systems

Ein an alliance of major environmental organizations, traffic light parties warn against classifying wood or wood pellet heating systems as environmentally friendly and thus using them in future heating systems. In a joint statement on Wednesday, the associations indicated that forests are already being overexploited both in Germany and around the world. Increased deforestation has “devastating effects on biodiversity”.

The background to this is the debate about the planned new Energy in Buildings Act (GEG). In the first place, the FDP, as well as parts of the SPD, are demanding that firewood can be used for heating in the future as part of the “technological openness”. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (The Greens) has at least shown that he allows exceptions in this regard.

Deforestation concerns

The German environmental organization, Greenpeace, Naboo, Robin Wood and the World Wildlife Fund warn against “the desire to replace one combustion technology based on coal and gas with another that is also bad for the climate.” The associations warned that this would neither contribute to the achievement of climate goals nor to the protection of biodiversity.

“Forests are increasingly threatened by CO2source,” the joint statement said. The use of timber is steadily increasing in all areas, further accelerating deforestation and forest degradation. “If the global demand for energy were covered only by wood, the world’s forests would be almost destroyed in a year,” the report says, citing scientific research.

Associations criticize that Germany is already importing huge amounts of timber. The share of wood in the EU that is burned has already risen from 40% in 2005 to 55% in 2017. When wood is burned, the CO previously bound by the wood is released.2 released, the report said. Because the energy stored in wood is less than in coal and natural gas, burning wood also produces twice as much CO.2 get the same amount of heat for free.

While wood heating systems are often considered climate neutral, this only applies if as much wood grows as it burns. In addition, the associations note that CO2 released in a short time from burning will very slowly re-bind in trees over the next few decades. “Therefore, heating with wood is not a contribution to climate protection,” environmental organizations warn.

In addition, when wood is burned, harmful substances are released. These are primarily particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). They refer to studies by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, according to which wood-burning stoves and other wood-burning systems are responsible for one fifth of all particulate emissions in Germany.

The associations also point out that wood is a valuable raw material that is only available in very limited quantities. Therefore, it should only be used for heating in exceptional cases. With growing demand, domestic sawmill waste alone is not enough to produce wood pellets and will have to be imported. However, in many pellet exporting countries, such as Estonia or Romania, this leads to deforestation rich in species.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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