‘We’re sacrificing billions of bread loaves for bioenergy’

A new report claims that the amount of land needed for bioenergy could be used to farm 15bn loaves of bread in a year

Big Zero Report 2023

The amount of land needed for the UK’s bioenergy aims could be used to farm 15 billion loaves of bread a year.

That’s the claim of a report by environmental group Cut Carbon Not Forests (CCNF), which has stated that looking for greener energy sources could challenge British food security.

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) has been touted as a key technology to help the UK in reaching net zero, with estimations from government that it will be required to offset 35.4 million tonnes of carbon by 2050.

Hard-to-abate sectors such as aviation and heavy industry are set to benefit from the use of the technology, however, CCNF’s report claims the desire to grow this technology could come at the expense of people’s stomachs.

Currently, imported wood from overseas forests is used for bioenergy – but the government is considering bringing the source closer to home; with energy crops grown on British farms.

These crops would be grown purely for energy – and with the estimated amount of bioenergy capacity needed, the analysis alleges that 1.3 million hectares of land would be needed for farming.

This amount of land could be used to grow enough wheat annually for 15 billion loaves of bread, the group stresses.

It implores the government to not consider BECCS, as it believes it will both lead to food insecurity and threaten nature.

Elly Pepper, CCNF Campaigner, said: “While the government and industry desperately want to rely on BECCS to meet net zero goals, it doesn’t make sense from any angle.

“In the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis and record food price inflation, the government must find real solutions to prevent global warming – not perpetuate the corporate capture that got us into this mess in the first place.”

BEIS has been contacted for comment.

Make sure you check out the latest Net Hero Podcast episode: