Home Canada National Press Foundation Fellowship: Exploring Biomass and Climate Change for U.S. and Canadian journalists (Fully Funded)

National Press Foundation Fellowship: Exploring Biomass and Climate Change for U.S. and Canadian journalists (Fully Funded)

by opportunitydiary
National Press Foundation Fellowship 2021

Application Deadline: August 27th 2021

In the forests of the American South and Canada, timber is falling and the nation’s green wars are heating up. The flashpoint: wood pellets — or biomass — that is then burned to make electricity, often thousands of miles away in Europe.

The battle over biomass will feature at the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, as climate scientists and regulators grapple over whether biomass can truly be considered “carbon neutral.” The same debate is going on in the U.S. Congress, as some lawmakers seek to do away with official language that declares biomass to be carbon neutral.

The U.S. Southeast is one of the largest wood-producing region in the world with logging rates four times those in the Amazon.

To help environmental and political reporters understand the economic, climate and conservation issues posed by biomass, the National Press Foundation is offering an all-expenses-paid fellowship for 20 U.S. and Canadian journalists to take a deep look at the issue. It will take place at multiple sites in North Carolina, a state that is a driver of growth in the biomass industry. The program will convene in Raleigh but then travel by bus to facilities and locales central to the biomass, wood-pellet and carbon sequestration debates.

The program will offer expert briefings from both sides of the Atlantic and all sides of the issue.

While renewable energy conjures up images of wind turbines and solar panels, 50% of the globe’s renewable energy today comes from biomass — not solar, wind or geothermal power. And bioenergy accounts for 60% of Europe’s renewable energy consumption.

But environmentalists say there isn’t enough wood “waste” to power these plants. The mature forests that are being cut instead are only “renewable” in 60 years’ time while living trees sequester more carbon each and every year. In February, 500 scientists signed a letter to President Joe Biden and other world leaders saying that the burning of wood pellets increases carbon emissions in the short term; the world doesn’t have time to wait, they wrote, for those increased emissions to be offset when new trees replace the harvested ones decades from now.


  • NPF will cover the rapid growth of the Southern wood-pellet industry and its expansion to Gulf Coast states; the regulatory battles in Europe, which created a demand for wood pellets by its renewable energy mandate; the massive plant in Britain that has been converted to burn North American wood instead of English coal; and the effect of the expanding biomass industry on Black, Indigenous and other communities of color in the United States.

Fellows will hear from industry, government and environmental experts. Topics will include bioenergy standards, such as those set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the EU and the U.S.; “carbon ledgers” and the arcana of accounting for carbon emissions; how the Trump administration treated biomass in the nation’s sustainability goals, and how the Biden administration will; how global regulators at COP26 conference will treat biomass; and the effects of regulatory changes on jobs, forestry and the economy of the U.S. Southern states.

The training will be held Oct. 10-13.

This program is open to U.S. and Canadian journalists only. The deadline to apply is Aug. 27.

The all-expenses-paid fellowship covers airfare, ground transportation, hotel costs and most meals. NPF offers this professional development opportunity for journalists to enhance skills, increase knowledge and recharge their reporting on one of today’s most critical issues.

COVID-19 PLANNING: Due to the rise in delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, participants in this in-person program may be required to mask or take other precautions against COVID transmission. Should pandemic conditions force NPF to cancel this in-person program, the training will be conducted online instead, ahead of the Glasgow climate summit.

Official Website: National Press Foundation Fellowship

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