Biofuels and biomass energy (bioenergy) produced by plants directly from the sun's energy can be used to produce some of our electricity and liquid fuels, and should be part of the solution to global warming pollution. NWF is working to ensure that sustainable land use, carbon benefits, and environmental protections are in place so that the next generation of biofuels and biomass energy is done right.
Biofuels have the potential to provide a modest contribution to our mix of fuels for transportation, and some biofuels may have lower greenhouse gas emissions than fuels derived from petroleum. However, it is important that biofuels be produced under environmental and social safeguards.
NWF is involved in a number of initiatives to ensure that the next generation of biofuels and biomass energy can be used to help curb global warming, while produced in a sustainable manner:
- Helping establish a global standard for the voluntary certification of biofuels, called the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). This standard will allow biofuels produced under appropriate safeguards to be recognized in the marketplace.
- Serving on the Council for Sustainable Biomass Production (CSBP), in an effort to promote the sustainability of next generation biofuels and biomass energy produced in North America. This multi-stakeholder process is working to establish a comprehensive North American standard for voluntary certification of sustainably produced biomass, and its conversion to bioenergy.
- Bioenergy Wiki, a web site for sharing information about bioenergy sustainability and related topics among specialists and the general public. This wiki is a participatory web site, which covers diverse bioenergy issues, including domestic and international developments in biofuels policy, and information on feedstocks, technologies, and environmental and social impacts.
While burning wood is as old as civilization, new techniques for growing and utilizing biomass resources make it a viable renewable fuel option for many parts of the U.S. and the world.
Expanding Biomass Energy Production While Protecting Wildlife
For NWF, the key to a proper role for biomass energy is ensuring sustainable land use and achieving real carbon benefits. We work with leading forest companies and landowner groups to identify the proper balance between forest-derived woody biomass fuel and sustainable forest management that protects core biodiversity and habitat values.
- We investigate new forest management techniques such as the use of "intercropping" which combines short term biomass crops within long term forest restoration of native species.
- We promote the role of new combustion technologies which burn wood at very high efficiencies and which can be appropriately scaled to provide both heat and power using sustainable local feedstocks.
- We work with industry leaders and farm groups to implement new biomass incentives under the Farm Bill and Energy Bills.
- We promote sustainable sources of biomass and work to prevent the use of unsustainable sources, such as potentially invasive species for used for biomass.
News and Related Resources
Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests
A study of southeastern forests in the U.S. finds that in the long run, burning wood instead of fossil fuels to make electricity can reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but not soon enough to prevent worsening the conditions leading to global climate change.
Growing a Green Energy Future
NWF report calls for strong agriculture and energy policies that create jobs, curb global warming, pollution, enhance national security, protect wildlife and uphold soil and water quality.