UNECE/FAO Report: Wood Energy Can Help Achieve SDG 7
Photo by Luis Del Río Camacho
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The UNECE/FAO report discusses types of wood energy fuels such as firewood, sources and users, policy instruments that support and hinder use, and ways to sustainably source wood.

According to the report, wood energy provides the majority of total energy supply in many developing countries, and nearly 25% in some developed countries, including in Europe where it is the leading renewable energy source.

Wood energy can be stored, and provides energy without sun or wind.

24 May 2018: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) have published a report highlighting the contribution that wood energy can make to achieving SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). The study titled, ‘Wood Energy in the ECE Region: Data, Trends and Outlook in Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and North America,’ highlights wood energy as the “overlooked renewable energy giant of the world.”

The report discusses types of wood energy fuels such as firewood, sources and users, policy instruments that support and hinder use, and ways to sustainably source wood.

According to the study, wood energy provides the majority of total energy supply in many developing countries, and nearly 25% in some developed countries, such as in Europe, where it is the leading renewable energy source. The report explains that wood pellets: are transforming wood use for heat and power generation in the UNECE region; are more energy-dense than traditional firewood; and support employment in the region’s forest sector through their production and distribution.

The report notes that wood energy can be stored, and provides energy without sun or wind. However, it can also lead to indoor and outdoor pollution if used inefficiently, and fuel wood harvesting can degrade forests without sustainable practices. Application of best practices to sourcing and processing can ensure that wood energy is clean and sustainable. For example, improved stoves and fuels can reduce fine particle emissions from traditional open fireplaces by more than 95%.

Improved stoves and fuels can reduce fine particle emissions from traditional open fireplaces by more than 95%.

In addition, wood energy use: can help mitigate climate change if used as a substitute for fossil fuels and if it reduces carbon emissions through sequestration; is scalable from small-scale residential units to large-scale industrial settings; and can support resilient and secure energy systems, as well as livelihoods across the UNECE region.

The report also, inter alia: describes how social, economic and political trends and developments may impact on wood energy use and sustainable production; includes statistics on wood energy markets across the UNECE region; helps bridge information about the forest and energy sectors; provides information on the role of wood energy in a range of sectors to support green economy strategies; and outlines commercial wood energy uses.

The report describes the role of public policy in helping to promote renewable energies, energy diversification, energy efficiency and security, and forest health, among others. As public policies influencing wood energy supply chains vary among UNECE member States, efforts are underway to streamline policy implementation towards more efficient outcomes. In addition, the report recommends that public policies affecting wood energy markets ensure, inter alia, stakeholder inclusiveness, incremental and permanence of targets, uniformity in incentives, flexibility in their application, and tailoring to local conditions.

The Joint UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section developed the report, with support from the Government of Finland and the UNECE/FAO Team of Specialists on Wood Energy. [Publication: Wood Energy in the ECE Region: Data, Trends and Outlook in Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and North America] [Publication Landing Page] [UNECE/FAO Video Demonstrating Correct Way to Burn Wood: ‘More Heat with Less Wood’] [UNECE Press Release]

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