Comment: An immediate 50% emission reduction solution is standing all around us

In the northeast, where snow falls regularly until the end of April, the heating of our houses and buildings represents 40.3 million tonnes a year of carbon dioxide emissions from more than 3.6 billion gallons fuel oil – not to mention other fossil fuels used for heating.

A moose crosses a forest road in the woods of northern Maine. Used for heat, sustainably harvested wood can reduce net carbon dioxide emissions by more than 50 percent. Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press, file

President Biden’s announcement of the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 52% by 2030 comes with a call to action that will impact the daily lives of every American. Immediately, some people thought of the restrictions, the upheaval, and a hefty price tag.

Instead, we see an opportunity to tackle our region’s oil dependency and put in place a climate smart approach – one that is regionally appropriate, can have an immediate and cross-cutting climate impact. and the community and is ready for sustainable implementation.

Without a doubt, our first responsibility is to reduce the amount of heat we use through increased energy efficiency measures. Second, we need to reconsider the fuels we use and apply a fully renewable approach to this region, including a central role for modern wood heating. This is not an old wood stove, an outdoor wood-fired furnace or a wood-fired power station; it is a high efficiency central heating that meets all Environmental and State Protection Agency standards for particulate matter.

In the Northern Forest, we sustainably harvest wood as part of integrated forest management and use sawmill waste to create strong fuelwood that is delivered to homes just like oil and propane. But, instead of contributing to the problem, modern wood heating reduces net carbon dioxide emissions by more than 50 percent.

It is not intuitive that using wood for heat can reduce emissions. The explanation is complex, but it has been tested and proven to be true here in the Northern Forest. When wood fuels harvested and made in the northern forest are used in place of fossil fuels to heat buildings here, there is an immediate reduction in net carbon emissions of 54% compared to petroleum and 59% compared to petroleum. natural gas, according to an independent and peer-reviewed report. cycle of life Analysis.

And – crucial for overcoming economic and social barriers to reducing emissions – modern wood heating also provides high-quality jobs, cost savings, and other desirable community benefits.

Place the questions in determining the impacts of our energy decisions. Stretching from Maine to New York City, the 30 million acre Northern Forest is the largest contiguous forest in the East and is mostly private. It has been actively managed for many forest products – wood, paper, energy, carbon – for over a century, yet it exists and is even expanding today. The region’s forest growth exceeds the harvest of more than 2 to 1; forests can sequester massive amounts of carbon while providing products that reduce our use of fossil fuels and other non-renewable materials.

The historical uses of the forest have changed; many stationers in the area that produced telephone directories, newspapers and magazines have closed. Some remain but require a smaller part of the wood supply. The northern forest can provide, according to one estimate, 20 percent of North East space heating needs without cutting a single additional tree beyond historic levels. We have the ability to reduce carbon emissions from oil heating here by over 4.4 million tonnes per year without further impact on the forest.

Forests are huge carbon sinks, essential in the fight against climate change. In the Northern Forest, the warmth of modern wood supports forest stewardship, allowing private owners to continue growing trees and producing carbon benefits as well as clean water, outdoor recreation. air and local jobs. These multiple advantages are what makes modern wood heating so convincing. Rural populations and communities need not be looked down upon for their legacy natural resource savings. Instead, they can be adopted as stewards of the landscape – and part of the solution.

The case of wood heating may not have a meaning elsewhere, but it is the case in the northern forest. A climate-friendly solution to our heating need is growing all around us. With relatively modest federal investments in the wood-burning sector and incentives like the new federal tax credit for modern wood-burning appliances, this region can deliver its share of carbon reductions while supporting communities. rural areas and continuing to cultivate the forest that defines them.

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