From Science to Policy 3

Göran Berndes, Bob Abt, Antti Asikainen, Annette Cowie, Virginia Dale, Gustaf Egnell, Marcus Lindner, Luisa Marelli, David Paré, Kim Pingoud, Sonia Yeh

The Paris Agreement and the EU Climate and Energy Framework set ambitious but necessary targets. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by phasing out the technologies and infrastructures that cause fossil carbon emissions is one of today’s most important challenges. In the EU, bioenergy is currently the largest renewable energy source used. Most Member States have in absolute terms increased the use of forest biomass for energy to reach their 2020 renewable energy targets.

In recent years, the issue of ‘carbon neutrality’ has been debated with regard to the bioenergy products that are produced from forest biomass. There is no clear consensus among scientists on the issue and their messages may even appear contradictory to decision-makers and citizens. Divergence arises because scientists address the issue from different points of view, which can all be valid. It is important to find agreement on some basic principles, to inform policy makers. Guidance is also needed on how the results should be interpreted.

This report provides insights into the current scientific debate on forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation. It draws on the science literature to give a balanced and policy-relevant synthesis, from both an EU and global perspective.

More information

Recommended citation:

Göran Berndes, Bob Abt, Antti Asikainen, Annette Cowie, Virginia Dale, Gustaf Egnell, Marcus Lindner, Luisa Marelli, David Paré, Kim Pingoud and Sonia Yeh. 2016. Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation. From Science to Policy 3. European Forest Institute.

Number of pages: 28
ISBN 978-952-5980-27-1 (print)
ISBN 978-952-5980-28-8 (online)


Download the ThinkForest brief, which highlights and summarizes the policy recommendations.


Göran Berndes is Associate Professor at the division of Physical Resource Theory at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

Bob Abt is Professor of Natural Resource Economics and Management at North Carolina State University, USA.

Antti Asikainen is Professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE).

Annette Cowie is Professor at the School of Environmental & Rural Science, University of New England, Australia

Virginia Dale is Corporate Fellow and Group Leader of the Landscape Ecology and Regional Analysis Group, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA

Gustaf Egnell is an Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Marcus Lindner is Head of the Sustainability and Climate Change Programme at the European Forest Institute.

Luisa Marelli is a Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport, Italy.

David Paré is a Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada.

Kim Pingoud is a Senior Research Scientist (retired).

Sonia Yeh is a Research Scientist at the University of California-Davis, USA.