Wood burning is causing dirty air from the UK to Australia, but a study shows incentives to switch can work

In 2010, air pollution scientists from three of Europe’s biggest cities – Paris, Berlin and London – sat down together. Our data showed a new and consistent pattern. Air pollution from wood burning had returned to our cities. Biomass energy schemes were subsidising new wood burners in schools and offices and wood was being burned in power stations, too, but the additional air pollution in our cities was coming from homes. We wrote a paper warning that biomass subsidies to reduce climate emissions may be leading to increased acceptability and popularity of home wood burning in stoves and fireplaces too.

By 2016, home wood burning was the second-largest source of particle pollution emitted in London. By 2018, it was responsible for nearly half the emissions across Europe.

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