Pro-logging interests use “Burning Wood is Renewable” as a slogan, a mantra, to assure others all is benign, because it helps save the world, fight global warming, is part of the solution, and thus deserves to get money via a proposed Global Warming Solutions Act.
Sources of CO2 of Logging Sector
1) Before logging, the logging sector has to be set up, operated, maintained and renewed, which emits CO2
2) The logging process includes maintaining the woodlot, harvesting, chipping, and transport to user, which emits CO2
3) Feeding the fuel into the furnace requires electricity and diesel fuel, which emit CO2
4) The combustion process emits CO2; in fact, more lb/million Btu than coal
5) The combustion process emits sub-micron particulates, which requires electricity for air pollution control systems, which emits CO2
6) Delivering the heat and electricity to users requires electricity, which emits CO2.
Combustion CO2, item 4, has the possibility of being all or partially renewable; it is about 80% of all CO2
The OTHER CO2, almost never mentioned, is about 20%
Particulates: The wood burning sector is major cause of combustion CO2 and other CO2 in NE, plus sub-micron particulates.
Gas, hydro and nuclear have nearly none of such particulates.
CO2 Absorption Cycle
Combustion CO2 is absorbed, under NE conditions, in about 80 to 100 years, in about 115 to 135 years, if the 35-y C-neutrality period is included; Year 1 is the combustion year. See URL for C-neutrality explanation.
When a woodlot is logged, some belowground biomass is killed (clear cutting kills all of it), because it is no longer needed by the trees that were cut. It decays and emits CO2.
The decay process, start to completion, under NE conditions, takes about 80 to 100 years.
While the decay takes place, any new tree growth on OUR harvested areas would offset more and more of the decay CO2, until the new tree growth has completely offset the decay CO2, which, under NE conditions, takes about 35 years.
After the C-neutrality period, the combustion CO2 of Year 1 (and ongoing decay CO2) would start to be absorbed by the new tree growth on OUR harvested areas.
The Interrupted CO2 Absorption Cycle.
The new trees on OUR harvested areas most likely would be cut well before they have had a chance to absorb all the combustion CO2 of Year 1 (and ongoing decay CO2), because, in the real world, a logger would come along, would see the 40 to 45-year-old trees, and would harvest them (veni, vidi, vici); those trees had barely started to absorb OUR combustion CO2!!
There ends the fantasy of “burning wood is renewable”, because there is no spare forest for “our remaining combustion CO2 (and ongoing decay CO2)”. Other forests already are busy absorbing CO2.
OUR combustion CO2 has to be absorbed on OUR harvested areas to be called renewable.
The OTHER CO2 not related to combustion, is similar to any other CO2, for accounting purposes.
The atmosphere, the oceans, and other CO2 sinks would absorb a part of “our remaining combustion CO2” (and ongoing decay CO2)”, as well “our OTHER CO2 (Items 1,2,3,5, and 6)”. That absorption would not be by OUR harvested area, and thus not be “renewable”.