The EU needs to protect forests – not burn them in power plants

Delivering the petition to the European Commission Delivering the petition in Brussels (© Daniel Djamo) Activists outside the European Commission, Brussels Environmentalists protesting outside the building of the European Commission in Brussels (© Daniel Djamo)

Jun 18, 2021

On June 15, environmental and climate protection NGOs We Move Europe, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Rainforest Rescue delivered a joint petition to the European Commission calling for an end to the mass burning of wood for energy.

The petition, which is supported by 126 organizations, was signed by a total of 220,000 people – including 83,000 Rainforest Rescue supporters. The signatures were delivered during a meeting with Diederik Samsom, the Head of Cabinet of Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, in Brussels.

The NGOs emphasized that wood burning is not carbon-neutral and urged the Commission to stop subsidizing it and crediting it toward the goals of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which is currently being revised.

 

During the action, environmentalists displayed a banner outside the European Commission building reading “EU: PROTECT FORESTS! DON’T BURN THEM FOR ENERGY”. First Vice President Timmermans is responsible for the EU’s “Green Deal”, which intends to create a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy in Europe.

The misguided climate policies of the EU and its member states are causing the world’s forests to be plundered and degraded to an increasing degree. Around 500 million cubic meters (m³) – half of the wood felled in the EU – is already being burned for energy.

Forest areas in Europe, North America and Siberia are already being clear-cut to provide the necessary volume of wood. The heavy harvesting and transport machines also damage the soils, water bodies and groundwater.

Forests, which not only absorb huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and store carbon in biomass and soils for the long term, are being replaced with uniform industrial tree plantations with zero biodiversity.

The trees are chipped and pressed into wood pellets in factories. The pellets fuel residential pellet stoves and increasingly coal-fired power plants that have been converted to biomass.

Bioenergy – mainly wood – accounts for about two-thirds of renewable energy in the EU. Hundreds of millions of trees are going up in smoke in power plants to generate supposedly green electricity and clean heat.