• Findings from an independent High Level Panel outline 30 conditions that must be met if forest Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is to deliver positive outcomes for society, climate and the economy.
  • Comes as the debate around the place of forest BECCS in the mix of emerging Negative Emissions Technologies continues to divide the sustainability movement, and flags the importance of taking a precautionary approach to expansion.

London, 23 November 2022, 10:00 GMT - An independent High Level Panel convened by international sustainability non-profit, Forum for the Future, has today released a new Report outlining 30 conditions that must be met if further investment in Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is to deliver positive outcomes for society, climate and the economy.

The ‘BECCS Done Well’ Report comes on the back of the COP27 Climate Conference, and joins others (such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[1]) in recognising that a range of Negative Emissions Technologies — both nature- and technology-based — will be needed if we are to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5oC by the end of the century.

As part of this technology mix, BECCS is projected to expand significantly in the next 30 years, yet continues to stir debate, with the sustainability movement divided on its viability and sustainability credentials.

In a concerted effort to move this debate forward, an independent Inquiry commissioned by energy company Drax and led by Forum has brought together a High Level Panel to distil extensive research, literature reviews and witness testimony into actionable areas that, if delivered, would confirm BECCS as a viable option.

The Report’s full findings, to which Drax has agreed to respond, are centred around four key questions: 

  • What conditions would need to be complied with to ensure that the sourcing and processing of woody biomass delivers positive outcomes for nature, climate and people?
  • What conditions would need to be complied with to demonstrate that energy from woody biomass makes a positive contribution to decarbonisation, energy security, affordability and a just transition?
  • What conditions would need to be complied with to ensure that BECCS from woody biomass makes a material, ongoing contribution towards net zero targets?
  • What are the implications for Drax of these conditions, and for the wider biomass industry, in terms of policy and governance? How will verification work, in an authoritative and transparent way, demonstrating compliance with these conditions?


Among the 30 conditions in the Report, the Panel recommended that Drax should: 

  • Ensure 100% of feedstocks are certified under internationally-recognised sustainable certification schemes that deliver positive social and environmental outcomes to the highest possible standard.
  • Aggressively reduce emissions both from direct operations and the wider value chain, prioritising investment in renewable power for all pellet-making plants, while scoping out the further decarbonisation measures on any new BECCS plants.
  • Agree, as a condition of future Government support for Drax’s carbon removals, to publicly disclose stack emissions (including SOX, NOX, uncaptured CO2 and capture-solvent derivatives), as well as captured tonnages of CO2 on a weekly basis. Agree that all such support from taxpayers should be paid retrospectively on the basis of tonnes of CO2 successfully captured and stored.
  • Consult with policymakers and NGOs on setting up a comprehensive Transparency Dashboard, establishing a set of indicators with ambitious targets to generate positive nature, climate and people outcomes. Put the resulting Dashboard into operation as soon as possible.


Brad Gentry of the Yale School of the Environment, whose expertise lies in nature-based solutions, Stuart Haszeldine of the University of Edinburgh, whose focus lies in carbon capture and storage, and Claire O’Neill, acting as an Independent Consultant with expertise in energy policy and governance made up the Panel, chaired by environmental campaigner and Forum Co-Founder, Jonathon Porritt

Their Report consistently notes the need for both governments and the private sector to take a highly precautionary approach to BECCS expansion, and for the strictest governance and forest-monitoring arrangements to be in place to ensure positive outcomes.  

But the Panel also recognises that with such a young industry, the prospects for positive outcomes do exist. For example, the Panel believes there is an opportunity to think much more holistically about managing forests both for optimum productivity and for biodiversity, designing in critical co-benefits around water, soil, flood control, recreation, sustainable livelihoods and wider community benefits, right from the start.

It ultimately concludes that BECCS can be ‘done well’, subject to the conditions outlined in the Report. 

Speaking on behalf of the Panel, Jonathon Porritt said: “We’re already in a Climate Emergency with a vanishingly small prospect of limiting temperature increase to no more than 1.5oC. We know that a wide range of Negative Emissions Technologies is going to be needed at scale, and BECCS sits at the cutting edge of those technologies.

“For too long, we’ve debated BECCS as either ‘good or bad’. This Inquiry dives into the nuance of that debate. It asks what conditions need to be satisfied for BECCS to deliver positive outcomes for people, planet and the economy. The Panel has operated on a strictly independent basis, calling on a wide range of Expert Witnesses and reviewing a huge amount of literature, to present recommendations that we hope will prove valuable at a critical moment for this debate.”

Advocates of BECCS argue it has a role in sustainable forest management, providing a secure, affordable form of carbon negative energy, which extracts and permanently stores CO2 from biomass, while critics point to complex issues such as Indirect Land Use and Change, long carbon payback periods, supply chain emissions and inadequate community engagement. It is hoped that the Report’s findings will help inform this debate.


  • ENDS -


For media enquiries, please contact: Amy Langridge, Associate Director - Marketing and Communications, Forum for the Future, [email protected]


Access the full Report.




What is BECCS?

In the context of this report, BECCS relates to the combustion of woody biomass to generate both electricity and heat, with the CO2 emissions from that process removed from the flue gases (through the use of specialist solvents) then compressed and transported via a purpose-built pipeline to be injected into depleted oil and gas reservoirs or saline aquifers, effectively locking that CO2 away on a very long-term basis.

The Panel and Inquiry process

The Panel was recruited on the basis of their significant experience in one of the four Inquiry areas:  Brad Gentry, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies on nature-based solutions; Stuart Haszeldine, University of Edinburgh on Carbon Capture and Storage; Claire O’Neill, Independent Consultant on energy policy and governance; Jonathon Porritt, environmental activist and Founder Director, Forum for the Future

The Panel collectively agreed a list of Expert Witnesses to approach to provide evidence, with every effort made to call on a diversity of witnesses in order to represent all sides of the BECCS debate.  Drax prepared a detailed preliminary submission responding to the four Inquiry questions, for consideration by the Panel and all Expert Witnesses.

The Panel received verbal evidence from a total of 12 Expert Witnesses in hour-long sessions (named in the Report), which were often supplemented by written submissions. Drax also provided its own Expert Witness to walk through its Preliminary Submission and address questions from the Panel. A synthesis of each Expert Witness session is publicly available with the Report, along with Drax’s preliminary submission.


About Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future is a leading international sustainability non-profit. For more than 25 years we’ve been working in partnership with business, governments and civil society to accelerate the shift towards a just and regenerative future in which both people and the planet thrive. Forum is focused on enabling deep transformation in three game-changing areas: how we think about, produce, consume and value both food and energy, and the role of business in society and the economy.

Forum provided the Secretariat for the BECCS inquiry process, including recruitment of the Panel, supporting the participation of Expert Witnesses, management of the Panel and Evidence Sessions, synthesising and analysing the evidence provided, and supporting the Panel in drafting, editing and publishing the Report. The report represents the opinions and recommendations of the Panel.


[1] p.40 IPCC, 2022: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg3/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGIII_SPM.pdf