Greenhouse gas emissions from burning US biomass in the European Union and United Kingdom

This roundtable discusses the draft report produced by Chatham House and Woodwell Climate Research Center on greenhouse gas emissions from burning US biomass in the EU and UK. 

Research event Invitation only
21 January 2021 — 3:00PM TO 5:00PM

The report aims to examine the impact on carbon emissions of the consumption of wood pellets sourced from the United States and burnt for energy in the EU and UK. Although this represents a small proportion of the total biomass consumed for energy in the EU, it has grown in size rapidly in recent years, and US pellets have accounted for the majority of wood pellet imports to the EU.

Most of them have been destined for the UK, which by itself consumed 21 per cent of all the wood pellets produced worldwide in 2018.

The report:

• Reviews data on the use and sources of biomass for energy in the EU and UK to date.

• Calculates the emissions associated with the consumption of US-sourced biomass in the EU and UK under three headings: emissions from the combustion of the pellets; emissions from energy use in the supply chain (harvesting, processing and transporting); and a detailed analysis of the impact on forest carbon emissions and stocks in the forests in the southern US from which the wood pellets are mainly sourced.

• Analyses likely future developments in EU and UK demand for US wood pellets over the next ten years, including reaching rough estimates for volumes of imports in 2025 and 2030, and extrapolate the associated impact on the climate.

The report will be redrafted post-event, and will be published later this year.


Duncan Brack, Associate Fellow, Chatham House

Dr. Richard Birdsey, Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center

Dr Wayne Walker, Carbon Program Director, and Associate Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center

Sasha Stashwick, Senior Advocate, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

Ross McKenzie, Group Head of Public Affairs and Government Policy, Drax Group

Dr Michael Norton, Environment Programme Director, European Academies Science Advisory Council

Chair: Professor Tim Benton, Research Director, Emerging Risks; Director, Energy, Environment and Resources Programme, Chatham House

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