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Updated: 9 hours 18 min ago

California’s Forests Targeted As Feedstock for Global Wood Bioenergy Industry

Fri, 01/06/2023 - 10:51

California’s Forests Targeted As Feedstock for Global Wood Bioenergy Industry – Civil Society Responds With United Force to Oppose Massive Wood Pellet Export Project

The opening of the environmental review of the Golden State Natural Resources wood pellet manufacture and export scheme in California received a robust response from civil society environmental and environmental justice organizations from around California, around the United States and around the world.

In late November 2022 two entities affiliated with the Rural County Representatives of California announced the official launch of a massive wood pellet manufacture and export project.

Under the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) the Golden State Finance Authority published a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the officially titled Golden State Natural Resources (GSNR) Forest Resiliency Demonstration Project.

The GSNR project as described in the NOP proposes to build two new wood pellet facilities, one in Lassen County and the other in Tuolumne County, to manufacture 1,000,000 tons a year of wood pellets that would be exported to global markets through either (or both) of the Richmond and Stockton ports, in the SF Bay Area and Bay Delta region.

Golden State Natural Resources proposes constructing two new wood pellet manufacture facilities in Northern California. (map source goldenstatenaturalresources.com)

For feeding the wood pellet scheme GSNR proposes to source feedstock from an extensive one hundred mile radius around each of the new wood pellet facilities, putting both private and public lands in the prospective holdings that would be logged for wood pellet manufacture.

Golden State Natural Resources is a not-for-profit corporation that is something of a sister organization to the Golden State Finance Authority, which is a ‘joint powers authority’ that is acting as lead agency for the CEQA review of the GSNR project. Both GSNR and GSF are considered ‘affiliated entities’ of the Rural County Representatives of California organization.

With the release of the NOP a public comment period on scoping for the environmental review was opened; the comment period closed on December 21, 2022, just prior to the holiday.

The intertwined nature of the GSFA and GSNR entities raises serious governance questions, including to what degree the Golden State Finance Authority, responsible for the environmental review of the GSNR project, has a financial stake in the GSNR wood pellet project, and how that might affect their ability to provide an impartial review of the GSNR scheme.

The GSNR wood pellet export proposal was met with strong opposition from civil society organizations, including partners in the international Cut Carbon Not Forests coalition such as Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Dogwood Alliance, Biofuelwatch, and the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Local, statewide, national and international organizations have expressed concerns about the Golden State Natural Resources project.

A comment letter lead by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Partnership For Policy Integrity (PFPI) received a whole host of diverse organizations joining in support, such as John Muir Project, Sunflower Alliance, the Central California Environmental Justice Network, the Environmental Protection Information Center, Conservation Congress, and many others, totaling some 30 local, statewide and national organizations that joined in voicing serious concerns about the public health, climate and environmental implications of the wood pellet manufacture and export proposal.

As well as listing numerous life cycle impacts from the project that any environmental review must analyze in depth, the letters also specified the need to assess the greenhouse gas emissions and air quality impacts from wood pellet manufacture, the impacts from truck and train transportation for project operations, and the hydrology, water and biological resource impacts from logging for feedstock supply.

Importantly, the sign on letter was unequivocal in expressing opposition to “promoting this dirty, unjust industry in a climate-forward state like California.’

Now that the scoping period for the GSNR wood pellet export project has closed Biofuelwatch will work with partners to draw attention to not only to this immediate threat to California’s forests and communities, but to put these dynamics in context with the risks and threats embedded in the politically convenient trend promoting the conversion of coal plants to burning biomass, such as is happening in Europe, Asia, and even Latin America, as the proposed conversion of a 320 MW Engie coal plant in Mejillones, Antofagasta, Chile exemplifies.

See the NRDC et al GSNR scoping comment letter: GSNR Forest Resiliency NOP Comments.

See the CBD and PFPI et al GSNR sign on letter: 22 12 19 CBD, PFPI, Biofuelwatch et al scoping comments on GSNR wood pellet project final.

For more background listen to this recent episode of Terra Verde on KPFA, featuring guests from PFPI: Global Wood Bioenergy Sector Eyes California’s Forests

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Stellungnahme zu den Eckpunkten für eine Nationale Biomassestrategie (NABIS

Thu, 12/22/2022 - 23:00
Biofuelwatch Stellungnahme zu den Eckpunkten für eine Nationale Biomassestrategie (NABIS)

PDF der Kommentare mit Literaturangaben

Vorbemerkung:

Biofuelwatch arbeitet seit zwei Jahren gemeinsam mit deutschen Umweltorganisationen zum Thema Holzbiomasse in Deutschland. Wir beobachten die Auswirkungen der derzeitigen energetischen Nutzung vonHolz mit großer Sorge, sowie auch die Pläne und Überlegungen von Wärme-und Stromproduzenten, in Zukunft noch mehr Holzenergie zu gewinnen. Bei unseren Kommentaren begrenzen wir uns deshalb weitgehend auf die energetische Nutzung von Holz.

Grundsätzliche Bemerkungen:

Aus Eurostat-Daten geht hervor, dass Deutschland sowohl für Wärme als auch für Strom mehr Holz als irgendein anderes Land in der EU verbrennt.Zudem zeigt eine Studie, dass Deutschland sowohl 2019 als auch 2020 diehöchsten Subventionen für Energie aus fester Biomasse (in erster Linie Holz) innerhalb der EU-27 vergab.Wir gehen davon aus, dass dies noch immerder Fall ist.

Wie der neueste deutsche THG-Inventarbericht zeigt, ist die Menge an CO2, die jährlich in Wäldern gebunden wird, seit 2010 stark gesunken. Laut eines Projektionsberichtes geht das Umweltbundesamt davon aus, dass die CO2 Senke im Wald bis 2030 noch wesentlich stärker zurückgehen wird. Die überaus intensive Nutzung des Waldes ist einer der wichtigsten Gründe fürdiese Entwicklung.

Etwa die Hälfte des Primär- und Sekundärholzes wird energetisch genutzt. Auch wenn laut des UBA nur 27% des Holzes, das verbrannt wird Rundholz von ausgewachsenen Bäumen ist, so schadet das Abholzen junger Bäumeund die Nutzung von sogenanntem Waldrestholz dem Wald dennoch.

Zudem wird in Deutschland mindestens 83% des Altholzes energetisch genutzt, anstatt es stofflich zu verwerten. Im Vergleich dazu nutzt etwa Italien 81% des Altholzes stofflich, vor allem zur Produktion von Spanplatten. Infolgedessen steht hierzulande nur wenig Altholz für die Spanplattenproduktion bereit, die deshalb vor allem Waldholz verarbeiten muss. Zudem hatte Deutschland 2021 laut Eurostat-Daten mehr als eine Millionen Tonnen Nettoimporte von Spanplatten zu verzeichnen.

Prinzipien zur Nutzung von Bioenergie:

Wir begrüßen das Vorhaben, dass Bioenergie in Zukunft sowohl zum Klima- als auch zum Biodiversitätsschutz beitragen soll, und dass die Bundesregierung anerkennt, dass das Nutzen von Bioenergie nicht über ökologische Grenzen hinausgehen darf. Wir begrüßen zudem, dass das Prinzip der Kaskaden- und Mehrfachnutzung betont wird.

Diese Prinzipien müssen gesetzlich verankert werden, um weiter direkte und indirekte Subventionen für Bioenergie, die dem Klima und der Natur schadet, zu verhindern. Bei indirekten Subventionen geht es vor allem darum, dass ein CO2-Preis bislang nur auf fossile Brennstoffe erhoben wird. Zudem muss eine nachhaltige Biomassestrategie zu einem schnelleren Ausbau von wirklich klima- und umweltfreundlichen Alternativen führen (unter anderem Energiesparmaßnahmen, Gebäudesanierung, Wärmepumpen, Wind- und Solarenergie).

Um den Prinzipien gerecht zu werden, muss die gegenwärtige Nutzung der Bioenergie erheblich reduziert werden. Das derzeitige Ausmaß – in dem nicht nur Holzbiomasse, sondern auch Biokraftstoffe, Biogas und Biomethan aus Mais und anderen Energiepflanzen genutzt werden – trägt zu erheblichen Schäden an der Natur, dem Boden und (im Fall von Energiepflanzen) der Gewässerqualität bei.

Das Grundproblem bei der Bioenergie ist, dass die Umwandlung von Sonnenstrahlung in nutzbare Energie durch Photosynthese äußerst ineffizient ist. Deshalb müssen große Mengen an Holz oder anderer Biomasse verbrannt werden, um auch nur einen kleinen Prozentsatz von fossilen Brennstoffen zu ersetzen. Das bedeutet, dass der Flächenbedarf extrem hoch ist und deshalb entweder Wald sehr viel intensiver bewirtschaftet werden muss als sonst der Fall wäre, oder große Landflächen für den Anbau von Energiepflanzen genutzt werden müssen. Unseren Berechnungen zufolge liegt der Umwandlungswirkungsgrad von solarer Strahlungsenergie in Strom aus  Biomasse zwischen 0,52 und 0,7 %. Eine durchschnittliche Photovoltaikanlage hingegen wandelt etwa 18,4 % der einfallenden Sonnenstrahlung in Strom um. Standards und Zertifikation sind keine effektiven Instrumente, um die Nachhaltigkeit von Bioenergie zu gewährleisten: Ein gemeinsamer Report von Biofuelwatch und Global Forest Coalition zeigt, dass es Nachhaltigkeitsstandards für Bioenergie sich weltweit nicht als wirksames Instrument erwiesen haben, um die negative Auswirkungen auf das Klima, die Wälder, die biologische Vielfalt und die Gemeinden zu verhindern oder auch nur zu mindern.

Die Gründe davon sind:

1) Nachhaltigkeitsstandards und Zertifizierungssysteme, wie etwa der FSC oder das Sustainable Biomass Program, beschäftigen sich nicht mit den Klimaauswirkungen von Bioenergie. Ob ein Wald nachhaltig bewirtschaftet wird, ändert nichts an der Kohlenstoffschuld, die durch das Abholzen und Verbrennen von Bäumen entsteht Laut eines Briefes, der von 500 Wissenschaftler*innen unterzeichnet wurde: “Durch das Nachwachsen von Bäumen und die Verdrängung fossiler Brennstoffe kann diese Kohlenstoffschuld eines Tages abgebaut werden, aber das Nachwachsen braucht Zeit, die die Welt nicht hat, um das Problem des Klimawandels zu lösen. Wie zahlreiche Studien gezeigt haben, wird die Verbrennung von Holz die Erderwärmung für Jahrzehnte bis Jahrhunderte verstärken. Das gilt selbst dann, wenn das Holz Kohle, Öl oder Erdgas ersetzt. “

2) Es gibt keine glaubwürdige Methode, die genaue Herkunft von Holz Biomasse zuverlässig zu überprüfen. Im August 2022 veröffentlichte Greenpeace Beweise dafür, dass Holz, welches im Biomassekraftwerk Bischofferode/Holungen verbrannt wurde, teilweise aus Abholzungen in einem Naturschutzgebiet stammte, obwohl die Betreiber (dieStadtwerke Leipzig) angaben, nur Holz aus der Landschaftspflege, Waldpflege oder Durchforstung zu nutzen. Greenpeace wies dies mit GPS-Trackern, die in Löchern in Bäumen versteckt wurden. Bei importiertem Holz mit langen Lieferketten ist es noch weniger möglich, den Ursprung des Holzes zu überprüfen.

3) Eine steigende Nachfrage nach Holz führt prinzipiell zu einem intensiveren Holzeinschlag. Dies ist EU-weit unter anderem in einer peer-reviewten Studie, welche 2020 veröffentlicht wurde, nachgewiesen worden. In Estland und Finnland haben die hohe Nachfrage nach Holz und die darauf folgende Intensivierung der Forstwirtschaft bereits dazu geführt, dass Wälder von einer CO2-Senke zu einer CO2-Quelle geworden sind. Ob Energieunternehmen ihr Holz aus nachhaltiger Forstwirtschaft beziehen, hat auf diese Entwicklungen keinen Einfluss.

Welche Maßnahmen sind nötig, um negative Auswirkungen der Holzenergie auf Biodiversität und Klima zu verhindern?

Die großflächige Nutzung von Holzenergie sollte prinzipiell nicht als klimafreundlich angesehen und unterstützt werden, weil sie es nicht ist. Beim Verbrennen von Holz fallen pro Megawatt Wärme oder Strom nicht weniger CO2 Emissionen an als beim Verbrennen von Kohle. Nachwachsende Bäume können eine vergleichbare Menge an CO2 nicht in den wenigen Jahren speichern, in denen sich die Erderwärmung möglicherweise noch auf 1,5 oder sogar auf 2 Grad begrenzen ließe.

Aus diesem Grund sollten indirekte und direkte Subventionen auf regenerative Energiequellen begrenzt sein, die tatsächlich CO2 Emissionen stark reduzieren und der Biodiversität nicht schaden. Auch im Wärmebereich muss wesentlich mehr in eine Energiewende weg von Brennstoffen, die CO2 freisetzen, investiert werden (u. a. Sanierung von Gebäuden und Wärmepumpen). Es braucht demnach eine Reform des EEG und der Subventionen im Wärmebereich sowie Maßnahmen, um zu verhindern, dass die CO2 Abgaben für das Verbrennen fossiler Brennstoffe in Kraftwerken zu einem Anreiz für die Holzenergie (auch durch Ko-feuerung mit Kohle) wird.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Please call on your MP to stop subsidies for Drax’s tree burning

Fri, 12/16/2022 - 08:31
Click here to take part in the action and email your MP

Did you know that the UK Government is wasting £1.5 billion a year subsidising tree burning for electricity at power stations like Drax, with devastating impacts on forests, wildlife, communities and the climate? 

Drax is the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and the world’s biggest tree burner. Much of the wood that the company burns comes from the logging of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests in the Southern USACanadaEstonia and Latvia. 

These forests are home to many rare and endangered species and a recent BBC Panorama investigation has revealed that Drax is logging primary forests in Canada which have never been logged before. Drax has also been accused of driving ‘environmental racism’ in the Southern USA after paying $3.2 million to settle air pollution violation claims against its wood pellet mills in Louisiana. 

Yet, the biomass industry receives huge renewable subsidies from the UK Government to burn trees. Drax alone receives over £2 million every single day from the Government to burn wood and these subsidies are paid for through an extra charge on UK energy bills. 

Despite making record profits in the middle of the cost of living crisis, Drax is now asking the Government for even more subsidies to fund unproven bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology that will allow the company to continue burning trees for years to come. This is expected to cost the UK public an estimated £31.7 billion. A recent Government consultation proposed granting these BECCS subsidies to Drax even if the power station captures little or none of the carbon that it emits from burning trees. 

Please help to protect forests, wildlife, communities and the climate by calling on your MP to stop existing Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROCs) subsidies for tree burning in UK power stations as quickly as possible; to ensure that all future subsidies go to genuinely low carbon energy sources and climate action; and finally, to stop Drax from getting more subsidies under the guise of carbon capture and storage.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Renewable Diesel Is Not Renewable

Tue, 12/13/2022 - 06:48

This short op-ed piece was written by Gary Hughes of Biofuelwatch and was published in the Eureka Times-Standard in the heart of the redwood region in Northern California.

See: https://www.times-standard.com/2022/12/01/my-word-renewable-diesel-is-not-renewable/#

As the annual United Nations global climate talks have ground to another polluter-friendly conclusion, one is forced to ask themselves “what is being done to address the root causes of climate change on the North Coast of California?”

Though it is out of sight and out of mind, and moving slower than melting glaciers are retreating, Humboldt County does indeed have a regional “climate action plan” in the works.

In early June the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unambiguously approved advancing the draft Humboldt Regional Climate Action Plan (CAP) to the beginning of review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

As the county describes it, the “Climate Action Plan is a comprehensive road map that outlines the specific activities a local government will undertake to reduce GHG emissions within their jurisdiction.”

For our organization Biofuelwatch, which works to address the human rights, climate and environmental impacts of industrial bioenergy, the lack of urgency with which the county is moving the CAP is only one of our concerns.

One of the big elements of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction roadmap described in the draft CAP is a ‘drop-in’ liquid biofuel that is called Renewable Diesel.

Regardless of the “green” sounding name, renewable diesel is not renewable.

To be clear, renewable diesel is considered a “drop-in” biofuel because it can be used in a diesel engine without blending with petroleum-based diesel, nor does it require modifications of the diesel engine. Hence, the “drop-in” moniker.

Though feedstocks for renewable diesel include used cooking oil, animal tallow and other “fats, oils and greases” (FOGs), by far the predominant feedstock for making renewable diesel in California is soy oil. Renewable diesel is essentially a “food to fuel” phenomena whose rise in manufacture and use is being directly connected with rising global food prices.

Another element of renewable diesel that concerns frontline communities in places like Rodeo, on San Francisco Bay, where Phillips 66 is converting their refinery to be one of the largest biofuel refineries on the planet, is that the manufacture of renewable diesel is a high-intensity greenhouse gas emissions refining process. The “hydrocracking” required for making fuel from vegetable oils like soy requires massive amounts of hydrogen, which comes from the steam reforming of fossil gas.

Basically, the manufacture of renewable diesel relies on huge amounts of fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, the elevating of renewable diesel as a climate solution for Humboldt County failed to take into account how many of the most common forms of bioenergy are not only associated with significant increases in food prices, but also with deforestation, industrial pollution, pesticide and herbicide poisoning, degraded water resources, biodiversity loss and increased overall greenhouse gas emissions. These trends are at risk of continuing unabated due to well-intentioned but poorly conceived clean energy targets, public subsidies, markets-based mechanisms — and county-level climate “action” plans.

A hard truth is that we are living on a land-constrained planet, and the moment has passed for assuming that bioenergy is inherently an option for supporting climate stability.

Though there do exist some industrial efficiencies, processing technologies and feedstock streams that offer bioenergy products that might have a climate “benefit,” the scale of these options is extremely limited.

Bioenergy must be scrutinized with skepticism, as much bioenergy, such as so-called renewable diesel, actually presents severe threats to food security, forest protection, public health, air quality, ecosystem protection, and social justice.

A course correction is needed. Pivoting strongly to convert emissions-intensive petroleum infrastructure to function as emissions-intensive bioenergy infrastructure is a climate dead end. To achieve the core objective of energy policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect air quality, greater efforts are needed to exclude high-carbon forms of energy from climate action plans and incentives mechanisms. What is needed are policies to avoid infrastructure “lock-in” and the extension of the economic life of toxic “stranded assets” and to instead move away not only from fossil fuels but to also move away from land-intensive bioenergy.

It is this kind of deep structural change that is most needed in the Humboldt Regional Climate Action Plan. We implore county staff and supervisors to have the courage to stand up to the wealthy and powerful interests pushing for bioenergy false solutions in California climate policy, and instead promote alternatives that will protect public health and secure advances in the stewardship of the environment while centering equity and social justice.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

NEWSLETTER DEC 2022

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 01:58

Dear Biofuelwatch supporter

Welcome to our final update of the year. Thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout the year. With your continued support, we will keep working to ensure we see meaningful responses to climate change, and protection of forests and the people and wildlife depending on them from pro-corporate false climate solutions. 

Click below to share this newsletter! Sign up to our mailing list
  1. 2022 roundup 
  2. Email your MP
  3. Fuel Poverty Action appeal
  4. Report: carbon capture from biomass & waste incineration: hype vs reality 
  5. Biofuelwatch appeal 
  6. Barclays Drop Drax
  7. Axe Drax
  8. Renewable diesel is not renewable
  9. Drax and the Green Energy Con 
1. 2022 ROUNDUP!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year across the globe through our online or in person actions. Our collective voices have continued to speak out for forests, and demand climate justice. Here in the UK Drax has continued with its destructive practices. As we reported in the summer, Drax has applied to the Planning Inspectorate to add unproven carbon capture equipment to two of its wood-burning units at its power station near Selby in Yorkshire. As well as helping Drax argue for the continuation of its destructive tree burning, this also allows for a dangerous reliance on unproven ‘negative emissions’ technology in climate policy. Thank you to everyone who objected to the Planning Inspectorate.

In October this year a BBC Panorama investigation carried out by Joe Crowley into Drax’s sustainability claims revealed that Drax is cutting down primary forests in Canada. Biofuelwatch and our supporters have been sounding the alarm about Drax harming Canadian forests for many years. You can watch the full programme on BBC iPlayer or view a clip and article here.

The brilliant team at Sharklays published an article on their website looking at Barclays’ long association with Drax highlighting a £300m facility (loan) shown in Drax’s most recent annual report. Following this, Biofuelwatch, along with a number of other climate activists and groups, started our campaign to ask Barclays to put an end to its financing of Drax. You can take part in our ‘Barclays Drop Drax’ campaign below. 

This year has also seen the creation of The Stop Burning Trees (SBT) Coalition which is made up of groups and individuals coming together to take action against the destructive biomass industry. From environmental campaigners, to trade unionists and health campaigners, the coalition is demanding an end to the biomass industry and the £billions in subsidies given to Drax and other companies for burning trees and polluting.  

Working with European partners this year we were pleased to help publish a joint article with Environmental Paper Network, and Dogwood Alliance which exposed Albioma’s greenwashing of their coal-to-biomass conversions in the French Overseas Territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Réunion. The French energy company is in the process of converting or replacing at least four coal power plants in French Overseas Territories to biomass. Albioma’s website implies that it relies on sugarcane, but in reality it increasingly burns wood pellets from Enviva, which routinely sources wood, including whole logs from mature trees, from the clearcutting of highly biodiverse coastal hardwood forests in the Southeastern USA.

Thank you to everyone who supported us in person or online for our International Day of Action in April where we sent a collective message to both Vattenfall and Drax that burning wood from trees is not low-carbon and harms forest ecosystems. In October our International Day of Action on Big Biomass was focused on Barclays and its investments in Drax and we took part in the global ‘Wave’ to raise awareness of the global environmental and social impacts of burning forest biomass.

Our colleagues in the USA have been busy raising awareness, challenging decision makers and working together with like-minded activists. In the summer we shared our latest briefing about BlackRock’s harmful investments in energy from forest and tree plantation wood. Our colleague Gary Hughes has been active on the ground in California challenging the conversion of refineries in San Francisco bay to make fuel from food.

2. EMAIL YOUR MP

We are asking for your support to help us protect forests, wildlife, communities and the climate by calling on your MP to stop existing Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROCs) subsidies for tree burning in UK power stations as quickly as possible; to ensure that all future subsidies go to genuinely low carbon energy sources and climate action; and finally, to stop Drax from getting more subsidies under the guise of carbon capture and storage.

Click here to find out more and take action by emailing your MP 3. FUEL POVERTY ACTION

As the cost-of-living crisis and energy crisis soar leaving many people vulnerable this year we are asking if you can support Fuel Poverty Action who campaign to protect people from fuel poverty. They challenge energy companies and unfair policies that leave people to endure cold homes and take action for warm, well-insulated homes and clean and affordable energy, under the control of people and communities, not private companies.

Click here to see how you can support Fuel Poverty Action 4. REPORT: CARBON CAPTURE FROM BIOMASS & WASTE INCINERATION: HYPE VS REALITY

Biofuelwatch has released a comprehensive report about carbon capture from biomass power and heat plants and from waste incinerators. The report compares the reality of existing projects and the technical challenges they face with claims that such technologies can make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and remove CO2 that has been emitted into the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning.[1] The report juxtaposes Drax Group’s limited experience with carbon capture with its extremely ambitious proposals for BECCS at its Yorkshire power station. You can read the full report below:

Read full report here 5. BIOFUELWATCH APPEAL

The UK is burning more imported wood pellets for electricity than any other country in the world.  Many of those pellets come from the Southern US, where biodiverse native wetland forests are under threat from the rush for biomass. Forests which are home to thousands of plant and animal species, some of them found nowhere else on the planet, are being clear-cut at a rapid pace and pellets made from those clear-cut forests are being burned by Drax Power Station in the UK. More and more communities are being polluted by giant pellet mills as their forests are cut down and shipped overseas. Biofuelwatch has been working hard to end this madness but we rely on support and funding to be able to do so. Please consider making a donation to Biofuelwatch, to help us continue campaigning against big biomass, and to push for subsidies to be granted instead to genuine low-carbon renewables.

6. BARCLAYS DROP DRAX

Following the recent BBC Panorama investigation into Drax’s logging and burning of trees from some of the world’s most precious forests in Canada, awareness of the devastating impacts of biomass burning is growing.  Please help us spread the word further by joining us to call on Barclays Bank to stop funding Drax’s planet-wrecking tree burning.

Click here to tell Barclays to Drop Drax

On Friday 18th Nov along with BankTrack, Environmental Paper Network and Money Rebellion we hosted a webinar on ‘Barclays and Drax’s tree burning – how to stop the money pipeline’. You can watch this below if you missed it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hueHRlxWWg 7. AXE DRAX

Our friends at Axe Drax are still crowdfunding for support towards their legal costs. The Axe Drax team is a group of volunteer activists who want government and corporations to tell the truth about the irreparable damage biomass causes, remove the billions in subsidies given to Drax and other biomass power stations around the UK and instead use this money to fund a just transition including retraining and transferring workers in the biomass industry, funding genuine renewable energy and developing a plan of de-growth and moving away from the profit motive which is fuelling the climate crisis towards community based solutions. Please donate if you are able to support them financially, and share the crowdfunder with others online. 

Axe Drax Crowdfunder

@axe_drax need funds to take on the UK's largest carbon emitter, are you able to help so they can keep challenging Drax/UK Government. Funding will be used to cover legal costs for those arrested and charged, and for the materials for…
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8. RENEWABLE DIESEL IS NOT RENEWABLE

Our colleague Gary Hughes in California has written this short op-ed piece which was published in the Eureka Times-Standard in the heart of the redwood region in Northern California.

Click here to read the full blog 9. DRAX AND THE GREEN ENERGY CON

In October we ran a webinar called ‘Drax and the Green Energy Con’ with special guest speakers included Michelle Connolly from Conservation North, Tegan Hansen from Stand.Earth and Joe Irving from Axe Drax and the Stop Burning Trees Coalition. They told us more about the recent BBC Panorama and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation investigations into Drax’s logging and burning of trees from some of the world’s most precious forests in Canada. We also heard about Drax’s links to Barclays Bank and discussed how we can take action to protect forests, communities and wildlife around the world from Drax as part of the International Day of Action on Big Biomass on the 21st of October 2022! You can access the webinar here if you missed it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK-ZRTiaDaY

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Joint Submission to EBRD Energy Sector Strategy

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 00:00
Joint Submission by 56 Civil society organsitions to European Bank for reconstruction and development consultation on a new energy sector strategy Click here to read the letter with references and the list of signatories

2nd December 2022

Dear Sir/Madam,

We thank you for this opportunity to provide feedback on the EBRD’s Energy Sector Strategy.

We believe that the EBRD needs to improve its Energy Sector Strategy in view of the current climate and biodiversity crises. In order to do this, the EBRD needs to end finance for fossil fuels, including coal district heating and investments in fossil gas, as well as in wood bioenergy.

With this submission, we would like to draw your attention to the risks of directing EBRD’s energy investment funds in the wrong direction such as a harmful transition fuel like gas, or wood biomass. Our submission focuses on the latter.

Wood biomass is commonly presented as a renewable source of energy that helps bring down greenhouse gas emissions, in the same category as solar and wind. However, burning wood for energy on a large scale is neither carbon neutral nor ecologically sustainable. It exacerbates forest destruction and climate change. It also causes harm to communities due to air and in some cases noise pollution from pellet production and biomass plants, and by degrading and destroying forests that are vital for communities.

Our strong advice to the EBRD is to halt any investment in and financing of wood biomass, and avoid any investment in coal transitions that rely on biomass or prolong the life-span of coal-based infrastructure. We urge EBRD to focus all energy finance on clean renewable energy, including energy storage, and on energy conservation such as building insulation.

Air quality impacts

Burning wood causes comparable levels of air pollution as burning coal, however, it emits more fine particulates (PM2.5) per unit of energy. The current EBRD Energy Sector Strategy rightly identifies air pollution, including from energy generation, as an important social concern and states: “a shift to cleaner energy sources and electrification is needed to improve air quality and decarbonisation across all sectors of the economy”. Investing in biomass energy is not compatible with this. According to the European Environment Agency, in 2020, despite lower pollution levels due to Covid lockdowns, 96% of the EU’s urban population was exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) above the 2021 WHO guideline of 5µg/m3. Across Europe, particulate (PM10, which includes PM2.5) levels were highest in the Balkan region and Turkey. Given those very high levels of air pollution, even investments in biomass district heating as an alternative to more polluting domestic stoves are not compatible with the need to protect public health; genuinely clean alternatives such as solar energy are needed.

Climate impacts

Biomass power is not a low-carbon source of electricity or heat. Burning wood emits more carbon into the atmosphere than coal per unit of energy, as it is less efficient. It is however often reported as low-carbon, because biomass companies have on paper zero emissions. This is false: it is based on a misinterpretation of carbon accounting and deep flaws in the accounting rules themselves. Emissions from woody biomass are officially accounted for in the land sector (LULUCF), instead of the energy sector (like fossil fuels). This means they are counted in the place a tree is cut down, not at the smokestack (but even the current flawed official counting is often not happening). This means they are counted in the place a tree is cut down, not at the smokestack (but this is often not happening). A company burning woody biomass can therefore report/state that they have zero carbon emissions, but this clearly doesn’t reflect the reality. We therefore strongly recommend the EBRD to not classify wood biomass as low-carbon in its new Energy Sector Strategy.

Furthermore, wood biomass is increasingly recognised by the scientific community as a high-carbon source of energy, linked to forest and biodiversity destruction and threats to public health. In January 2018, an open Letter signed by 800 scientists was submitted to the European Parliament, stating: “Even if forests are allowed to regrow, using wood deliberately harvested for burning will increase carbon in the atmosphere and warming for decades to centuries … even when wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas. The reasons are fundamental and occur regardless of whether forest management is ‘sustainable”. A subsequent peer-reviewed study found that bioenergy sourced from burning forest residues results in such a high carbon debt that it cannot contribute to the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 or even 2 degrees. In February 2021, another open letter by 500+ scientists was sent to world leaders urging them to stop treating the burning of biomass as carbon neutral.

Adverse impacts on forest ecosystems and biodiversity

The EBRD’s E&S criteria for bioenergy projects class bioenergy projects “directly associated with large-scale deforestation” as Category A projects. However, under FAO definitions, logging and even clearcutting forests is not classified as deforestation unless the land is subsequently converted to another purpose such as agriculture. Across the EU, more than 60% of all harvested wood was burned for energy in 2017 according to the EU’s Joint Research Centre,viii a figure that has likely risen since. The scale of demand for wood bioenergy is a significant factor in the intensification of forestry in Europe and, in turn, correlates with progressive forest degradation (not officially classified as ‘deforestation’). A peer-reviewed study published in 2020 showed that, based on analysis of satellite data, biomass loss increased by 69% and the harvested forest area by 49% between 2011-15 on the one hand and 2016-18 on the other hand. EBRD’s current E&S standards would allow for this to continue.

A report by BirdLife International, published in September 2022, highlights the serious impacts of this intensification of logging on woodland birds, including in Estonia and Latvia.x For example in Latvia, where tree cover has been declining, numbers of Hazel grouse decreased by 93% between 2005 and 2018, and other species like the Common buzzard, the Lesser Spotted woodpecker and the Willow tit are also declining.

A particular concern in the Balkan region and also in Turkey is illegal logging. A 2021 report by the EU Environment Partnership for Association warned: “the forest ecosystems in the Western Balkans and Turkey are under pressure. Substantial forest areas are lost due to fires and clear cutting…In some countries the poverty-driven illegal logging is dominant. However, market driven illegal logging is also an important factor due to its profitability and low risk for the perpetrators”. The authors found “incoherent, fragmented and unenforceable policy and legal framework, limited enforcement capacity, lack of information about forest resources and illegal harvesting, corruption in the timber supply chain”.

Illegal logging is a serious concern in Bulgaria and Croatia, too, despite both being EU member states. A 2020 report about logging in Croatia, published by the Association of Veterans and Social Action, highlighted the lack of an approved Forest Management Plan since 2018, leading to severe illegal clearcuts in protected areas, a severe lack of timber tracing, misuse of EU funds to buy heavy logging machinery, and a general lack of enforcement of nature protection regulations.xiii And in Bulgaria, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime found that: “illegal logging ranks among the most serious criminal markets in Bulgaria…Between a third and a quarter of all felled trees in the country are part of the black market, and in 2019 alone, the proceeds generated by those involved in illegal logging were estimated to be between US$42 million and US$90 million”.

The EBRD’s E&S criteria for bioenergy projects refer to “internationally recognised” certification schemes. However, an analysis published by Biofuelwatch and the Global Forest Coalition found no evidence that EU bioenergy sustainability criteria have had any impact on wood sourcing for energy, or that they have helped avoid or mitigate any adverse impacts on forests and wildlife.xv

Those sustainability criteria are largely met through compliance with accredited voluntary certification schemes. An analysis of existing sustainability criteria for wood biomass in the EU Renewable Energy Directive by European NGOs shows that: “they fail to ensure that bioenergy is produced without harming forests, or in a way that helps tackle the climate crisis”.

Clearly, in a region where illegal logging is so rampant and there is no institutional capacity or willingness to prevent it, the idea that demand of wood for bioenergy can be ‘sustainably’ scaled up is not credible. Instead, higher demand will translate into higher wood prices, threatening to make illegal and other destructive logging more lucrative still. Following this, we would also like to point out that the price curve of biomass energy is either steady or upwards, while that of wind and solar comes down. Biomass therefore seems like a less reasonable energy source than wind and solar in terms of affordable prices.

We therefore strongly advise the EBRD to adapt its Energy Sector Strategy so that the bank will no longer finance wood biomass companies or projects, will not fund ‘co-firing’ of biomass or any form of industrial scale biomass, as well as no longer funding fossil fuel investments. This will help EBRD move into the right direction, a just and sustainable future for all. We believe all energy finance should support clean renewable energy, including energy storage, and on energy conservation such as building insulation.

We thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Civil society statement denouncing Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 05:54
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil: 19 years is enough Click here to read the statement with hyperlinks and the list of signatories

This year’s general assembly of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which begins on 1 December 2022 in Malaysia, marks the alliance’s 19th anniversary. For nearly two decades now, the RSPO has failed in its mission to make the industrial palm oil sector “sustainable”. Instead, it has been used by the palm oil industry to greenwash environmental destruction, labour and human rights abuses and land grabbing.

We, and other organisations working with communities affected by industrial oil palm plantations, have repeatedly denounced the RSPO for its failure to address the grievances of communities whose lands were taken by palm oil companies. The fundamental problems with the institution and its certification scheme are described in detail in international statements signed by organisations from around the world in 2008 and in 2018, and recently in reports published in 2021 on the failure of RSPO to prevent deforestation, consult affected communities and address their grievances (here and here).

Today, we find that nothing has changed. While the area of land under RSPO-certified oil palm plantations has continued to grow, the RSPO has continued to be a great deception.

Since 2020, the RSPO certified several industrial oil palm concessions in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Sao Tome, Ghana, DRC, Nigeria and Ivory Coast belonging to the Luxembourg-based company Socfin. The certifications were provided in complete disregard of community grievances related to lack of living space, land conflicts, deforestation, pollution, labour rights, harassment and violence. Communities in Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Ivory Coast have demanded the suspension of these certificates. After articles appeared in the media about Socfin’s Cameroon plantations, the RSPO secretariat sent a verification mission to assess the allegations made. While community leaders say the RSPO assessment team avoided talking with people critical of the company, and ignored evidence provided by community leaders, the verification assessment still documented numerous violations of RSPO standards at the Cameroon plantations. Despite these findings, the RSPO continues to issue certifications to more plantations of the Socfin group.

In Sierra Leone, 1,475 local community members affected by Socfin’s plantation signed a petition denouncing the RSPO’s certification decision in January 2022. They claimed the RSPO  process was flawed and had failed to consider issues related to land grabbing, human rights violations and violent repression. As noted in an international press release signed by numerous organisations: “The RSPO consultation process was riddled with missteps. Relevant stakeholders, including affected landowners, were not consulted. A crucial government report that orders revocation of the principal lease and a participative process to solve the current land disputes was rejected as evidence. The audits were not independent from the company and a safe space for consultation was not provided despite the huge risks of reprisals for people.”

The recent certification of Socfin in Africa shows how the RSPO not only fails to help communities but can undermine their defence of life. Communities and their NGO allies have to waste valuable time and resources engaging with multiple and complex RSPO processes. Leaders who speak out during these processes are vulnerable to  intimidation and harassment.

In another recent case, members of the Commune of Barranquilla de San Javier in Ecuador held a peaceful protest in 2019 to demand that the RSPO member company Energy & Palma withdraw from their lands, stop polluting their water sources and stop deforestation. The protests were violently crushed by the police and then, in a clear act of intimidation, the company took seven community leaders to court, seeking US$320,000 in damages. The court already issued one of two rulings and sentenced the community members to pay US$151,000, which the defenders appealed. The company also appealed and insisted on the payment of US$320,000. The second ruling is still pending. As of today, the RSPO has taken no action to sanction Energy & Palma.

Meanwhile, communities in Liberia are still waiting for a solution to a complaint they lodged with the RSPO over a decade ago against member company Golden Agri-Resources. Their experience and others show how the RSPO complaint system is in tatters and has never been effective.

We now have 19 years of ongoing evidence that the RSPO is not a credible instrument for holding companies in the palm oil industry to account for environmental, social and labour violations. This means that RSPO fails to uphold its own principles and criteria towards its members. It has proved to not be a trusted venue for communities to address their complaints against palm oil companies. Instead, it undermines communities’ efforts and enables palm oil companies to grab more lands.

At a moment when the area of land under RSPO certification is growing and when the RSPO is being promoted as a standard for sustainability within national, regional and international regulations and policies, we reiterate our denunciation of the RSPO and our commitment to actions that can truly serve the interests of communities and put an end to the colonialist model of industrial oil palm plantations.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

UK press release about report on BECCS and carbon capture from waste incineration

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 04:22

New report exposes claims made about bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to be based on hype, not real-world experience

– for immediate release –

28th November 2022 – Today, Biofuelwatch has released a comprehensive report about carbon capture from biomass power and heat plants and from waste incinerators. The report compares the reality of existing projects and the technical challenges they face with claims that such technologies can make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and even remove CO2 that has been emitted into the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning.[1] The report juxtaposes Drax Group’s limited experience with carbon capture with its extremely ambitious proposals for BECCS at its Yorkshire power station.

Biofuelwatch’s report considers 17 actual or proposed biomass or waste incineration carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects worldwide, including in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It reveals that the amount of CO2 captured so far is minimal and that major technical challenges, including a large energy requirement for carbon capture and problems with corrosion, are not even close to being overcome. Several operators with so far tiny CO2 capture trials are vying for subsidies with claims that they can scale up those small trials as much as >1,000-fold or, in the case of Drax in the UK, by more than 200,000 times without any further research and development. It highlights the fact that the scale of the carbon capture and sequestration project Drax and the UK government are proposing goes beyond anything achieved by any CCS project in the world. Yet there is no experience with large-scale carbon capture of any type in the UK, nor with transporting CO2 by pipeline or sequestering it in geological reservoirs.

Report author Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “Company investments into carbon capture from biomass and waste incinerators are almost entirely driven by subsidies which, as we fear may happen with Drax in the UK, might even be paid for so-called BECCS project in the absence of any actual carbon capture. Those subsidies could and should be spent on proven, effective measures to reduce carbon emissions, such as investing in home insulation, in heat pumps and low-carbon renewable energy as well as in recycling and moving towards a genuine circular economy.”

Nearly half of the projects identified in the report involve waste incinerators rather than biomass plants.

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration network (UKWIN), says: “No amount of carbon capture can hide the fact that waste incineration is a leakage from the circular economy. Carbon capture is very costly, both financially and environmentally, and any investment should be directed to supporting reduction, reuse and recycling. UKWIN welcomes this new report, which will help inform the ongoing debate around finding genuine solutions to our climate crisis.”

Link to the Biofuelwatch report:

biofuelwatch.org.uk/2022/biomass-and-msw-ccs-report/

Contact:

Almuth Ernsting, biofuelwatch@gmail.com , Tel +44-131 6232600

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Press release about report on BECCS and carbon capture from waste incineration

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 04:11

New report exposes claims made about bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to be based on hype, not real-world experience

28th November 2022 – Today, Biofuelwatch has released a comprehensive report about carbon capture from biomass power and heat plants and from waste incinerators. The report compares the reality of existing projects and the technical challenges they face with claims that such technologies can make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and even remove CO2 that has been emitted into the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning.[1] The report is published ahead of a legislative proposal for a new Carbon Removals Certification Framework by the European Commission which is expected to be published on Wednesday, 30th November.[2]

The European Commission’s proposals, believed to strongly promote bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) amongst other fossil-fuel prolonging technofixes, have been criticised in a statement by over 170 civil society organisations.[3]

Biofuelwatch’s report considers 17 actual or proposed biomass or waste incineration CCS projects worldwide, including in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It reveals that the amount of CO2 captured so far is minimal and that major technical challenges, including a large energy requirement for carbon capture and problems with corrosion, are not even close to being overcome. Several operators with so far tiny CO2 capture trials are vying for subsidies with claims that they can scale up those small trials as much as >1,000-fold (or, in the case of Drax in the UK, by more than 200,000 times) without any further research and development.

Moreover, all CO2 captured by such plants so far is either vented into the atmosphere, used in greenhouses to make flowers and other plants grow faster, or, in one case, used to fertilise algae grown to make anti-wrinkle skin cream.

Report author Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “Company investments into carbon capture from biomass and waste incinerators are almost entirely driven by subsidies, except in one case involving a pulp mill in Indonesia developed in expectation of carbon offset money. Those subsidies could and should be spent on proven, effective measures to reduce carbon emissions, such as investing in home insulation, in heat pumps and low-carbon renewable energy as well as in recycling and moving towards a genuine circular economy.”

Nearly half of the projects identified in the report involve waste incinerators rather than biomass plants.

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration network (UKWIN), says: “No amount of carbon capture can hide the fact that waste incineration is a leakage from the circular economy. Carbon capture is very costly, both financially and environmentally, and any investment should be directed to supporting reduction, reuse and recycling. UKWIN welcomes this new report, which will help inform the ongoing debate around finding genuine solutions to our climate crisis.”

Contact:

Almuth Ernsting, biofuelwatch@gmail.com , Tel +44-131 6232600

Notes:

[1] biofuelwatch.org.uk/2022/biomass-and-msw-ccs-report/

[2] See europarl.europa.eu/legislative-train/theme-a-european-green-deal/file-carbon-removal-certification

[3] realsolutions-not-netzero.org/real-zero-europe

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Real Zero Europe Statement

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 03:56
To avoid the worst effects of climate chaos, we must radically transform systems and achieve Real Zero

Click here to download the joint statement with the list of signatories in English, Spanish, French, German or Italian

To avoid the worst effects of climate chaos, we must radically transform, equitably and justly, the way we produce our food, manage our ecosystems, and power our economies. We must urgently deploy real and proven, socially just and people-led solutions and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source, down to Real Zero.

Because emissions are cumulative, every ton of current emissions contributes to the growing climate chaos that we see all around the world: heat waves, glaciers collapsing, intensified cyclones, crop losses, wildfires, and massive flooding, among other devastating impacts.

Yet fossil-drenched and fossil-entrenched government and corporate interests keep subsidizing, producing, and burning fossil fuels. Their latest greenwashing fantasy is that ‘nature-based solutions’ and future technologies of ‘carbon dioxide removal’ (CDR) will suck vast amounts of ongoing carbon pollution back out of the atmosphere some day. Their strategy assumes an overshoot of 1.5 °C, with just a possibility of returning to safe temperature levels, putting all of the planet at risk from the serious consequences of overshoot that the IPCC has warned about in its latest report.

In this strategy, every ton of promised future CDR represents emissions that are bringing us more climate chaos today. 

The plan that the European Commission (EC) put forward in December 2021 in their Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles contributes to this strategy. In the communication, the EC proposes a regulatory process at the EU-level to certify carbon removals and create a credthat then could be traded in carbon offset markets. Future CDR and carbon-offset markets are smokescreens for current inaction.

In the plan, the EC promotes two types of CDR. The first is the temporary storage of carbon in fields and forests—called ‘carbon farming’—as a means to address ongoing emissions, including the permanent emissions of fossil fuels. But temporary ‘nature-based’ sequestration is not interchangeable with and cannot compensate for fossil emissions that stay in the atmosphere and contribute to warming for hundreds to thousands of years.

The Commission is also promoting technological approaches, including direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) and bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS). These technologies are not currently viable at scale AND have potentially enormous social, environmental, and economic risks and costs from their very high energy and resource consumption as well as from the transport and storage of carbon dioxide.

Both carbon farming and BECCS, should it ever become feasible at scale, also pose huge risks for land-speculation and land-grabbing from small-scale farmers and peasants, threatening food sovereignty in the EU and around the world.

The European Commission’s direction of travel completely ignores the past and current failures of carbon offset markets to deliver either emissions reductions or the finance needed for a real and just transition away from fossil-based economies. A carbon removals-offset market benefits polluters most of all. It relies on a dangerous and false justification for continuing emissions: that someone, somewhere, might at sometime in the future remove a ton of carbon from the atmosphere. It is a sure way to torch the planet.

Future CDR cannot serve as a substitute for deep emissions reductions now. To stay below 1.5 °C of warming, requires real, just, and immediate reductions. A strategy to overshoot 1.5°C and bet on temporary removals and currently non-existent technologies to return someday to safe global temperatures is a strategy of climate disaster.

Europe has a huge historical responsibility to support a just transition for the Global South, and to rapidly bring emissions down to Real Zero at home. We know what Real Zero looks like: a just and equitably managed phase-out of fossil fuels; an energy transformation to real, fair, democratic, and sustainable renewable energy; support for small-scale farmers and a just transition of food and agricultural systems towards agroecology for food sovereignty; close-to-nature forestry practices; and the redirection of public subsidies, away from fossils, to support these measures.

Getting to Real Zero and staying below 1.5 °C of warming requires rejecting any European Commission proposal for certifying carbon removal offsets in a failed carbon market. It requires halting emissions and restoring ecosystems now.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Carbon capture from biomass and waste incineration: Hype versus reality

Sun, 11/27/2022 - 23:00
Full Report Executive Summary

Executive Summary:

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) has been gaining traction in the debate around climate change mitigation, with governments developing funding and business frameworks to incentivise such projects. BECCS is misleadingly classified as a ‘carbon removals technology’, based on the false assumption that biomass energy is carbon neutral and that capturing and storing CO2 from burning wood or other biomass makes it ‘carbon negative’.

Carbon credits and offsets from “carbon removals” including BECCS featured in the Climate COP27 discussions and the European Commission will be putting forward a proposal for a Carbon Removal Certification Framework at the end of November 2022, which is expected to include support for BECCS, too. Meantime, the EU and governments including in Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK have started putting BECCS subsidy mechanisms into place.

Operators of waste incinerators are taking advantage of the push for BECCS by developing carbon capture projects and claiming those are or could be ‘carbon negative’ as long as more than half of the mixed waste burned is biogenic rather than from fossil fuels.

An important criticism of the discourse around BECCS is that it is being used to legitimise further fossil fuel burning. As shown in our report, carbon capture has from the start been developed to further fossil fuel industry interests. Carbon capture itself is derived from a process used to remove toxic hydrogen sulphate and CO2 from fossil gas so as to allow more gas to be burned for energy. The first carbon storage project was set up with the sole aim of recovering additional oil through a process now known as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Today, 73% of all carbon captured worldwide is used for EOR, which means that it results in more overall CO2 emissions than would have been the case without carbon being captured. We then look at existing carbon capture projects across different sectors and show that almost all of them involve capturing highly pure CO2 streams, for example from ethanol fermentation, and that there is only one commercial-scale power plant with carbon capture – a coal plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, which has been beset with problems and is not expected to break even financially throughout its operational life, despite the CO2 being sold to an oil company for EOR.

The report then looks at the literature around the technical challenges of capturing carbon from biomass (and by implication mixed waste) combustion. The fundamental problems with carbon capture from power and heat plants using amines (the only proven technology in this context) are a) high energy requirements, b) amine degradation, b) corrosion caused by amine particles. Capturing carbon from biomass and waste combustion plants poses additional challenges because flue gases have a very different composition to those from coal or fossil gas plants, and conventional levels of sulphur oxide and particulate emissions interfere with the functioning of the amine solvents.

The main section of the report looks at the 17 projects involving carbon capture from biomass plants or waste incinerators which have either captured some CO2, mostly during small-scale trials, or which haven’t so far but which have attracted funding for trials. In addition, we included a proposed BECCS project at an Indonesian pulp mill, with a finance plan involving carbon credits. We found projects involving carbon capture from biomass plants in Canada, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, and projects involving carbon capture from waste incinerators in Denmark, France, Japan, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden.

The most successful of those projects in terms of total amount of CO2 captured appears to have been carbon capture from a waste incinerator in Duiven, Netherlands, with 42,000 tonnes reported captured in 2021, still less than 11% of the incinerator’s total CO2 emissions and, furthermore, the operators reported problems with corrosion at the end of that year.

All CO2 captured from biomass plants and waste incinerators so far has either been vented to the atmosphere, sold to greenhouses in order to make flowers and other produce grow quicker or, in the case of a waste incinerator carbon capture project in Japan, used to fertilise algae grown for anti-wrinkle skin cream. Both CO2 use in greenhouses and in algae farming are subsidised as ‘carbon capture and utilisation’, even though they are of no benefit to the climate.

The lack of experience with large-scale carbon capture from such plants does not prevent some companies from claiming that they will soon be capturing very large quantities of CO2. Drax Group in the UK ‘promises’ to scale up carbon capture at their biomass power station by more than two hundred thousand times, and Stockholm Exergi more than 2,000 times.

Investment in biomass and waste incineration carbon capture is primarily driven by public subsidies and, for example in the case of Drax Group, by the prospect of future subsidies ostensibly granted for ‘BECCS’ will be decoupled form any requirement to actually capture carbon. In Indonesia, Marubeni Corporation is the first to put forward a BECCS project in expectation of carbon offsets. Those are subsidies that could and should otherwise be spent on real solutions to the climate crisis, including home insulation, low-carbon renewable energy and investment in recycling.

The report goes on to illustrate the contradictions between the very limited actual experiences with carbon capture from biomass or waste incineration with hyped up claims made about such projects.

Finally, we discuss the one bioenergy sector with genuine and realistic plans for BECCS: Ethanol, and specifically corn ethanol production in the USA. Although there are only two such projects at present, 34 are in the advanced development stages, attracted by generous financial incentives, including though pieces of legislation enacted during 2022. In connection with those plans, a large new network of CO2 pipelines is being developed, against community opposition and protests driven by safety concerns. The amount of CO2 that can be captured from an ethanol plant is small compared to direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol production. In this context, government support for BECCS serves as a lifeline for ethanol producers who cannot expand their US ethanol market in the face of competition from electric vehicles. Once again, the discourse around BECCS serves specific economic interest groups, with no potential benefits in terms of real climate change mitigation.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Defund Climate Chaos and tell Barclays to Drop Drax

Fri, 11/04/2022 - 07:12

Barclays helps fund Drax power station, which is the world’s biggest tree-burning power station and the UK’s single largest carbon emitter.

Barclays wants you to think it is a climate-friendly bank which is supporting wildlife and investing in renewable energy.

However, Barclays is funding forest destruction, biodiversity loss, environmental injustice and climate-wrecking emissions through its investments in Drax which is the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and the biggest wood-burning power station in the entire world. 

This financing includes a £500 million bond in 2017 and a £300 million corporate loan to help fund Drax’s coal to biomass conversion; a loan which was extended by Barclays in 2015, 2017 and 2020. Barclays is also the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe. You can find out more about Barclays’ funding of Drax and fossil fuel companies from the Sharklays website and the Extinction Rebellion video below.

Following the recent BBC Panorama investigation into Drax’s logging and burning of trees from some of the world’s most precious forests in Canada, awareness of the devastating impacts of biomass burning is growing.  Please help us spread the word further by joining us to call on Barclays Bank to stop funding Drax’s planet-wrecking tree burning.

1. Complete the form below to tell the bank to stop funding Drax’s tree burning, forest destruction and environmental injustice  

<p>Your browser does not support iframes. Please visit <a href=”https://biofuelwatch.good.do/barclaysdropdrax/barclaysdropdrax-2/”>https://biofuelwatch.good.do/barclaysdropdrax/barclaysdropdrax-2/</a></p>if(!window.jQuery){document.write('<\/script>');}

2. Take action online and in person

Thank you to eveyone who supported us on Monday 14th November in person and online for a week of actions. Biofuelwatch and the Stop Burning Trees Coalition were joined by Money Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion and other groups for a day of action at Barclays branches across the UK. We have some great photos of the day below. you can also countinue to take action online through Sharklays 'Rate Barclays' or see our Barclays action pack below to find out how to can take action on social media:

Barclays Action Pack - #DropDrax!

3. Join an event during the Barclays Week of Action - 14th-21st November

On Friday 18th Nov BankTrack, Environmental Paper Network and Money Rebellion hosted a webinar on 'Barclays and Drax's tree burning - how to stop the money pipeline' which you can watch below:

If you can not see the video below here is the link on youtube: https://youtu.be/5hueHRlxWWg

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Global Wave for International Day of Action on Big Biomass

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 04:14

Thank you to everyone who took part in an in person or online action on Friday 22nd October 2022. Together we were able to raise awareness of the global environmental and social impacts of burning Forest Biomass. 

Downing Street petition hand in

The Cut Carbon Not Forests (CCNF) coalition, which Biofuelwatch is a part of, handed in its petition to no. 10 Downing Street. The petition was signed by 44,000 people calling on the UK government to “say no to burning trees for energy”. The hand in was led by Biofuelwatch staff member Merry, co-director Deepak and long term volunteer Pete, all pictured below, along with Stuart Boothman of Friends of the Earth in the left hand photo and SNP MP John McNally in the one on the right:

Liverpool and York

Biofuelwatch focused its attentions on Barclays which is helping to fund the UK’s single largest carbon emitter, and the world’s largest tree burning power station, Drax. Protestors took part in actions in York and Liverpool as part of the Stop Burning Trees Coalition, which Axe Drax and Biofuelwatch are a part of. You can also read reports in the Liverpool Echo and York press by clicking the buttons below.

York York Liverpool Watch as activists in Liverpool sing ‘Hit the Road Drax’ Liverpool Echo: Climate change activists protest ‘environmental abominations’ outside bank York Press: XR holds demo outside Barclays Bank over Drax 

For todays Intrnl Day of Action Against Big Biomass we’re calling on @Barclays to #DropDrax (and everyone else that’s supporting this industry)! #BigBadBiomass #StopBurningTrees #Cop27 pic.twitter.com/T5hHgblE60

— Stop Burning Trees (@sbtcoalition) October 21, 2022

Thanet Green Party

Thanet Green party held an action at the entrance of Discovery Park in Sandwich against the biomass plant at the site, you can read more about this in the report below:

Biomass protest to take place as huge log piles grow at sites including Minster 

Global Wave

You can click the link below to see some of the highlights of the wave of events around the world on the International Day of Action on Big Biomass.  Actions took place In Australia, Indonesia, Nepal, Japan and the USA, with online events bringing in communities from African and Latin American countries, while many online and in person actions were held in European countries.  

A Round Up of Events from the International Day of Action on Big Biomass 2022

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Decarbonization in Chile: From Coal to Biomass – A False Solution

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 09:00

Mejillones power plant, Photo: Chile Sustentable

Engie Coal to Biomass Power Plant Conversion
Project in Mejillones (Chile), is a False Solution for
Decarbonization Joint Report by Chile Sustentable and Biofuelwatch

21st October 2022

• Engie’s plans in Chile expose the worrisome trend of converting coal-fired thermoelectric plants to biomass burning, destroying huge areas of forest that capture CO2 and generating additional emissions in feedstock transportation.
• The impacts on biodiversity, on public health and from the greenhouse gas emissions from the pellet industry and biomass power generation have not been evaluated.

Click here to download the report in English

En español

En français

 

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Klare Haltung gegen EU-Anreize für Holzverbrennung in Kraftwerken gefordert

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 03:23
Protest vor Bundeswirtschaftsministerium in Berlin zum Internationalen Aktionstag gegen das industrielle Verfeuern von Biomasse

21. Oktober 2022

Gemeinsame Pressemitteilung von ROBIN WOOD, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Biofuelwatch und NABU

Am heutigen internationalen Aktionstag gegen das Verfeuern von Biomasse haben Umweltaktivist*innen von ROBIN WOOD, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), der Deutschen Umwelthilfe (DUH) und Biofuelwatch vor dem Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz in Berlin protestiert. Mit einem sechs Meter hohen, aufblasbaren Baum, der statt einer Krone einen Schlot besitzt, sowie mit Protestbannern platzierten sie die deutliche Botschaft: „Kein Wald ins Kraftwerk – Wälder wachsen lassen!”

Bundeswirtschaftsminister Robert Habeck fordern sie in einem offenen Brief dazu auf, sich auf EU-Ebene entschlossen für ein Ende jeglicher finanzieller Anreize zur Holzverbrennung einzusetzen. Den Brief an Habeck nahm am Vormittag der Parlamentarische Staatssekretär Stefan Wenzel entgegen. Kommenden Dienstag werden sich die EU-Energieminister*innen in Luxemburg treffen. Aktuell laufen zwischen Mitgliedstaaten, Kommission und Parlament die Verhandlungen zur Revision der Erneuerbare-Energien-Richtlinie (RED), in der die Förderung des Verfeuerns von Holzbiomasse geregelt ist.

„Die fehlgeleiteten Subventionen für die Holzverbrennung durch die Erneuerbare-Energien-Richtlinie haben die Wälder in Europa und weltweit geschädigt. Sie haben enorme zusätzliche direkte CO2-Emissionen und Luftverschmutzung verursacht und die Fähigkeit der Wälder untergraben, ihre Funktionen als Kohlenstoffsenken, Luft- und Wasserfilter und Hotspots der Biodiversität zu erfüllen. Die EU muss eine konsequente Kehrtwende einleiten”, sagt Leif Miller, Bundesgeschäftsführer vom NABU.

„National genauso wie im EU-Rat muss sich Habeck als Repräsentant der deutschen Bundesregierung rigoros gegen die Holzverbrennung aussprechen. Entscheidungen zum Klimaschutz hierzulande haben Signalwirkung weit über die Grenzen hinaus. Die Bundesregierung muss daher auch zu Hause dringend Pflöcke für eine soziale und ökologische Energie- und Wärmewende und gegen das Verfeuern von Holz einschlagen”, betont Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Bundesgeschäftsführer der Deutschen Umwelthilfe. „Die anstehenden Prozesse zur nationalen Biomasse-Strategie, zur Erneuerbaren-Quote bei Heizungen und die nationale Förderpolitik von Holzheizungen und -kraftwerken sind hierfür wichtige Stellschrauben.“

„Gemeinsam haben wir in den vergangenen Monaten mit unseren Petitionen rund 820.000 Unterschriften dafür gesammelt, dass das Verheizen von Holz in Kraftwerken nicht länger gefördert wird. Wir erwarten jetzt klare Regelungen von der EU – ohne Schlupflöcher für die Industrie. Die Energieunternehmen sowie die Holz- und Pelletindustrie werden sonst einfach behaupten, dass sie zum Beispiel Schadholz verwenden und weiterhin ganze Bäume verfeuern. Wir beobachten schon jetzt, dass die Konzerne ihre Sprache dahingehend anpassen”, sagt ROBIN WOOD-Waldreferentin Jana Ballenthien.

„Robert Habeck hat gemeinsam mit anderen grünen Politiker*innen, darunter Bundesumweltministerin Steffi Lemke, eine Verfeuerung von Holz in Kohlekraftwerken als klima- und ressourcenpolitischen Irrsinn bezeichnet, der keine Förderung verdient“, sagt Almuth Ernsting von Biofuelwatch. „Habeck muss nun Rückgrat zeigen und seinen Worten Taten folgen lassen!”

Hintergrund:

Die Revision der Erneuerbare-Energien-Richtlinie (RED III) ist aktuell in der Phase der Trilog-Verhandlungen, in denen die Europäische Kommission, der Europäische Rat und das Europäische Parlament sich auf eine gemeinsame Position einigen müssen.

Zuvor hatte das EU-Parlament im September 2022 dafür gestimmt, die Verbrennung von Primärholz nicht länger zu subventionieren. Außerdem sollen die Länder Primärholz nur noch bis zu ihrem durchschnittlichen Anteil im Energiemix der Jahre 2017 bis 2022 als erneuerbar auf ihre Ausbauziele anrechnen dürfen.

Die aktuelle Definition von Primärholz eröffnet allerdings eine Reihe von Schlupflöchern, so dass riesige Waldflächen weiterhin zur Energiegewinnung abgeholzt werden könnten. Nicht als Primärholz gilt demnach etwa Schadholz oder Holz aus Wäldern, das zur Feuerprävention geschlagen wurde.

Weiterhin erlaubt wäre zudem, die Verbrennung von Sekundärholz zu fördern, also zum Beispiel von Pellets aus Sägeresten.

Der Internationale Aktionstag gegen das industrielle Verfeuern von Biomasse(International Day of Action on Big Biomass) wird seit einigen Jahren von der internationalen Bewegung begangen. In diesem Jahr beteiligen sich mehr als 190 NGOs auf allen Kontinenten dieser Erde, um auf das globale Problem aufmerksam zu machen. Bereits vor der Abstimmung im EU-Parlament wurde in mehreren EU-Ländern wie Deutschland und den Niederlanden gegen die Umrüstung von Kraftwerken auf die Verbrennung von Holzbiomasse protestiert. Mehrere Petitionen zum Thema gewannen hunderttausende Unterzeichner*innen.

Petitionen gegen Holzbiomasseverbrennung:

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Submission to EBRD regarding possible loan for coal-to-biomass conversion in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Mon, 10/17/2022 - 03:14
Biofuelwatch submission setting out concerns regarding EBiH plans to replace Unit 3 of Tuzla coal power plant with a biomass unit

Click here to download

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

NEWSLETTER OCT 2022

Fri, 10/14/2022 - 03:28

Welcome to our latest newsletter of 2022, full of updates about campaigns that we – and you – have been supporting, and policy developments. 

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  1. International Day of Action on Big Biomass – 22nd October 
  2. Panorama: The Green Energy Scandal Exposed 
  3. Webinar: Drax and the Green Energy Con
  4. Greenpeace Unearthed: Drax accused of driving ‘environmental racism’
  5. RSPB campaign: Attack on Nature 
  6. CBS report: The Big Burn
  7. Net Zero Festival and Labour Party Conference 
  8. California: Veto of state aviation greenwash legislation
  9. Axe Drax crowdfunder
  10. Burned: Are Trees the New Coal 
1. International Day of Action on Big Biomass – 22nd October

This year’s international day of action takes place globally on Friday 21st October. Join us in taking part in the global ‘Wave; to raise awareness of the global environmental and social impacts of burning forest biomass. As part of this we are asking if you can show your support by sending a message to Barclays, which is helping fund the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and the world’s biggest tree burning power station, Drax. Can you participate in an organised event, our e-action or social media action? Click the button below to find out more about Barclays’ investments in Drax and how you can take action. 

Click here to see how you can take action on the international day of action 2. Panorama: The Green Energy Scandal Exposed 

Many of you will have tuned into the BBC at 8pm on Monday 3rd October 2022 to see Panorama’s investigation by Joe Crowley into Drax’s sustainability claims which revealed that Drax is cutting down primary forests in Canada. Biofuelwatch and our supporters have been campaigning and sounding the alarm about Drax for years. You can watch the full programme here or read a report below:      

Read the report from Joe Crowley’s investigation here  3. Webinar: Drax and the Green Energy Con

Please join BiofuelwatchAxe Drax and the Stop Burning Trees Coalition for a webinar on “Drax and the Green Energy Con” to find out how we can help protect forests, wildlife, communities and the climate from Drax’s tree burning. Online on Monday 17th October from 7pm (UK time). Book your place now by clicking here.

Register for this online event here 4. Greenpeace Unearthed: Drax accused of driving ‘environmental racism’

An investigation by Greenpeace Unearthed released this month highlighted the number of settlement payments Drax has been forced to make for air pollution claims against three of its US pellet plants, two of which are in poor, majority black communities. You can read the full report below or watch the clip to find out more. 

Read full article here 5. RSPB campaign: Attack on Nature 

Following the UK government’s proposal to scrap laws that protect nature and funding for nature friendly farmers the RSPB has launched its ‘Attack on nature’ campaign. You can support this by writing to your local MP, Councillors and decision makers to stop this attack on nature and to support laws that protect it rather than scrapping them. We have added links to some webpages with more information to support you with writing to your MP and a template for any follow up you may require: 

Attack on nature: the story so far Has your MP replied to our Attack On Nature E-action? 6. CBS report: The Big Burn

The Fifth Estate examines how British Columbia has become a leading exporter of wood pellets being burned to fuel energy needs in the U.K. You can watch the full report here or click to watch ‘The Big Burn’ video below:

7. Net Zero Festival and Labour Party Conference 

Thank you to everyone who supported us online and in person at both the Net Zero Festival and Labour Party Conference. The Net Zero Festival took place at the end of September and among the speakers was Drax promoting its false solutions. We cannot let net zero greenwashing by big polluters be voiced without exposing them as the dangerous solutions they are. 

The Labour Party Conference took place at the same time in Liverpool this year with Drax being part of a sponsored event. Climate justice campaigners and Labour party members held a protest outside the conference demanding Labour drop its ties with Drax. 

You can see more pictures and videos from both of these actions below: 

Labour Party Conference Net Zero Festival 8. California: Veto of state aviation greenwash legislation

Our colleague Gary Hughes has written a detailed blog on recent developments with regards to the AB-1322 Bill. The bill proposed a ‘net zero by 2045’ goal for aviation originating in the state, with a focus on production and use of what the aviation sector calls ‘sustainable aviation fuel’. This involves massively scaling up intensive manufacturing of liquid aviation biofuels from high deforestation risk feedstocks like soy and canola oil. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s vetoing of the bill surprised refinery watchdogs and community climate activists but demonstrated a common sense approach which has been missing in the legislature. You can read Gary’s full blog on this below: 

Read blog here 9. Axe Drax Crowdfunder

We would like to share with you a worthy crowdfunder by the AxeDrax group. As many of you will be aware the AxeDrax group has worked with Biofuelwatch over the years challenging Drax and the UK government often through direct in person action such as the recent Labour Party conference. The group is run by volunteers and is therefore humbly asking for your donations to help cover legal costs for those arrested and charged as well as materials to use at actions.

Click here to donate 10. Burned: Are Trees the new Coal 

If you, or a group you are part of, are interested in organising a screening of this award-winning documentary please email us at: biofuelwatch@gmail.com. We will try to organise guest speakers from wood pellet-sourcing regions shown in the film.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Labour party conference 2022

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 02:07

it’s that time of year again when the main political parties have their conferences. This year Drax had a sponsored event at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Climate justice campaigners and labour party members held a protest outside the conference demanding Labour drop its ties with Drax.

Below we have linked and shared some videos and pictures from the protest in and outside of the venue as well as a article in the Byline times on the protest. 

Read Article here: Climate Activists Evicted from Labour Conference Fringe Event Sponsored by Power Station Firm  Click here to se more videos and pictures

Organisers of the @newstatesman event at @uklabour conference also tried to remove the @guardian @UE investigation article laid out on seats:#EnvironmentalRacism #stopfakerenewables #stopburningforests #LabourConference22 #LabourConference2022 pic.twitter.com/ifyhD30uf0

— Economy Land & Climate Insight (ELCI) (@elcinsight) September 27, 2022 https://twitter.com/elcinsight/status/1574687122803642369
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

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