Organisations from over 30 countries release statement calling for an end to monetary and policy support for biomass

(24 October 2018) – A loud chorus of civil society organisations representing hundreds of thousands of people around the world has come together to release a new statement expressing concern over the use of forest biomass for renewable energy. The groups are concerned that biomass is a societal delusion for climate change mitigation and increased their commitment to working collectively for real solutions that protect and restore forests.

The statement concludes with, “We, the undersigned organisations believe that we must move beyond burning forest biomass to effectively address climate change. We call on governments, financiers, companies and civil society to avoid expansion of the forest biomass based energy industry and move away from its use. Subsidies for forest biomass energy must be eliminated. Protecting and restoring the world’s forests is a climate change solution, burning them is not.”

One hundred twenty three organisations from over thirty countries have published this joint statement calling on the world’s governments to end policy support for large scale forest biomass energy. Forests are vital for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change and should not be destroyed for electricity production. The document’s global release happened as the North American Wood Products Industry celebrated #BioenergyDay which is promoting the further expansion of this false solution to climate change.

The statement shows the widespread, diverse, and growing opposition to forest biomass energy production and details biomass energy’s harmful impacts, with signatory organisations from major international NGOs to grassroots groups participating in large numbers. It comes on the heels of the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, outlining a startlingly short timeframe of 10-12 years to rapidly reduce emissions and limit global warming to that threshold. A key highlight of the report was the importance of protecting and restoring forests alongside rapid reductions in fossil CO2 emissions if we are to keep temperature increases within limits that could prevent catastrophic climate change.

In summary, the statement conveys the organisation’s conclusions and agreement that expansion of the forest biomass industry is misguided due to four key issues:

  • It harms the climate as burning forest biomass is not low carbon and its encouraged by flawed systems of emission accounting.
  • It harms the forests by threatening their biodiversity and climate resilience as well as undermines their climate mitigation potential.
  • It harms people as the industries undermine community rights and interests and biomass burning harms human health and well-being.
  • It harms the clean energy transition as it provides a life-line for continuing to burn coal for energy production and pulls investments away from other renewable energy sources.

“Forest biomass energy is a lose, lose proposition that has prompted this strong statement of concern from such a multitude of groups. We appeal to policy makers, financiers, the markets and consumers to abandon support for large scale energy production from the forests,” said Peg Putt, Forests and Climate Coordinator for the Environmental Paper Network, which has been the organiser of a year-long global dialogue with NGOs leading to the development of this joint statement.  

The signatory organisations range from Greenpeace International to NRDC and from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation all the way to Dogwood Alliance in the US, Friends of the Earth in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the Federation of Community Forest Users in Nepal and to Friends of the Siberian Forests in Russia, who all agree the evidence is clear that burning forest wood for large-scale energy production cannot be part of a sustainable future. Instead we must protect and restore natural forests to reduce emissions and to remove carbon from the atmosphere while supporting biodiversity, resilience and well-being.

Full statement and complete list of signatories: http://environmentalpaper.org/the-biomass-delusion/

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Media contact:
Peg Putt, Forests and Climate Coordinator, Environmental Paper Network
peg.putt@gmail.com, +61 418 127 580