Including bioenergy within the Energy Charter Treaty would make harmful treaty even worse 

Brussels/Amsterdam/London – 6 July, 2021 – 58 civil society organisations have asked signatories of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) in a statement to withdraw from the treaty rather than allow it to be broadened to include bioenergy. The ECT, an international investment treaty for cross-border cooperation in the energy industry, is already highly controversial, and civil society organisations warned that expanding the scope to bioenergy would harm efforts to protect forests, the climate and communities. (1) (2) (3)

Almuth Ernsting, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch said: “This treaty grants energy corporations enormous power to sue states for billions of dollars if they pull out of new oil or gas pipelines or try to phase out coal. Adding bioenergy to the mix would make a terrible agreement even worse.”

The joint statement is aligned with today’s call by civil society on ECT members to withdraw their membership from the treaty due to it being an obstacle to climate action. (3)

Energy giants RWE and Uniper are using the ECT to claim billions of Euros in compensation for alleged losses due to the Dutch coal phase-out. Attempts to reform the ECT are ongoing as the treaty is widely considered an obstacle for countries to pursue Paris-compatible energy policies.(4)

Peg Putt, coordinator of the Environmental Paper Network’s Working Group on Forest, Climate and Biomass, said: “To tackle the climate crisis, we must immediately halt investments in fossil fuels and forest biomass. Adding bioenergy to the ECT would lock in harmful investments, at the expense of the environment and people.”

Martin Pigeon, Forests and Climate Campaigner with Fern, said: “Burning forest biomass increases global heating and emits more greenhouse gases than coal, oil or natural gas. Bioenergy degrades forests, and increases air pollution and environmental injustice; we need to be tackling these problems, not entrench them.”

Contacts:

  • Peg Putt, Coordinator Biomass Working Group, Environmental Paper Network (EPN), +61 418127580 (AEST), [email protected]
  • Almuth Ernsting, Co-Director, Biofuelwatch, +44 (0)131 6232600 (BST), [email protected]
  • Martin Pigeon, Forests and Climate Campaigner, ++32 (0) 484 671 909  (CEST), [email protected]

Notes:

  1. The Energy Charter Treaty and Protocol
  2. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) & Transnational Institute (TNI), Energy Charter Treaty’s dirty secrets energy-charter-dirty-secrets.org/
  3. Civil Society Organisations’ Statement against the Energy Charter Treaty, signed by 400+ organisations
  4. Fern, New European Commission research reveals bioenergy’s bleak impact on forests, February 2021

Photo: Drax power station, by naturalengland is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0