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STOP DRAX: EMERGENCY DEMO 5th MARCH 2024

Fri, 02/09/2024 - 01:42

Join us at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to demand an end to tree burning subsidies. Fill in the below form if you want to join this action.

Click here to go to the action network events page

Drax is the UK’s biggest carbon emitter. The UK gov has already approved DRAX’s planning application and is clearly intending to lock us in to dirty tree burning energy for decades to come. Paid for by your energy bills!

The UK gov is now considering giving £billions more in subsidies to tree burning polluters Drax and Lynemouth. Drax is already receiving £1.7m per day from UK bill payers to burn trees whilst making record profits. According to the consultation, the cost of new subsidies to UK bill payers could be anything up to £2.5 billion a year. This is money that will not be available to support a transition to genuinely renewable wind and solar power.

We say: no more. No more wasting our money on dirty tree burning. No more funding of an industry that is driving environmental injustice, wrecking ecosystems and ruining our chances at a liveable future by destroying the very forests we need to absorb carbon emissions.

It’s more important now more than ever to put pressure on our government and let them know that we will not stand by whilst £billions more could be given to polluters! Join us to take action. 

Join us at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to demand an end to tree burning subsidies.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Please call on your MP to stop new subsidies for burning trees

Mon, 02/05/2024 - 06:58

The UK Government has just announced proposals to use our energy bills to give huge new subsidies to fund planet-wrecking tree burning at power stations like Drax in Yorkshire and Lynemouth in Northumberland. 

Please write to your MP asking them to stop the new subsidies for burning trees in UK power stations.  

EMAIL YOUR MP

The climate impacts of new subsidies for burning trees would be catastrophic. Drax is the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and the world’s biggest tree burner. In 2022 alone, Drax emitted over 12 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Much of the wood that Drax and Lynemouth burn comes from the logging of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests in the Southern USA, Canada, Estonia and Latvia, with devastating impacts on forests, wildlife and communities. 

New subsidies would allow both power stations to keep burning trees for years to come, with no time limit for the funding included in the Government consultation. And new subsidies for burning wood won’t do anything to lower our energy bills, or make our energy supply safer. Drax is already making record profits whilst receiving £1.7m per day from UK energy bills. According to the government’s consultation, the cost of new subsidies to UK bill payers could be anything up to £2.5 billion a year. This is money that will not be available to support a transition to genuinely renewable wind and solar power. New subsidies will make companies like Drax richer at our expense as they continue destroying forests and polluting communities. 

We say: no more. No more subsidies for destroying forests. No more wasting our money on dirty tree burning. No more funding of a dirty industry that is destroying the very forests we need to absorb carbon emissions and ruining our chances at a liveable future. New subsidies for burning trees will only pour more fuel on the fire.  

MPs have the power to stop these wood-burning subsidies and to transfer the funding to real climate solutions like home insulation and wind and solar power. This would create new green jobs and help protect forests, wildlife, communities and the climate. We need as many MPs as possible to speak out and tell the Government to stop new subsidies before the consultation closes on the 29th of February. 

Will you write to your MP today to ask them to say no to new subsidies for tree burning in UK power stations?

We have also pulled together a MP briefing which you can send to your MP directly which has more information on the subsidies and how they can directly take action.  

Click here to download the MP briefing CCNF-Briefing-on-Extending-subsidies-for-large-scale-biomass-generators-Feb-2024Download
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

STOP NEW TREE BURNING SUBSIDIES

Tue, 01/30/2024 - 03:17

The UK Government is proposing to give huge new subsidies from our energy bills to fund forest destruction and climate-wrecking tree burning at power stations like Drax in Yorkshire and Lynemouth in Northumberland. 

For the sake of the planet, we have to stop these new subsidies. Together we can.

Drax, which is the world’s biggest tree burner and the UK’s single largest CO2 emitter, already receives around £1.7 million per day in renewable subsidies from UK energy bills to burn trees, with devastating impacts on forests, wildlife, communities and the climate. 

The Government has now announced plans to use our energy bills to fund even more tree burning at Drax and Lynemouth when their current subsidies run out in 2027. 

Please help us stop tree-burning power plants getting billions more by responding to the government’s consultation! The deadline is 29th February. If you have the time, please send a personalised response, but otherwise, please just add your details below. And please share this widely. Thank you!

Click here to fill in the form on the Action Network Website Click to read background briefing with FAQs about the consultation

If you need a quick reminder of all issues read on, otherwise please go ahead to the consultation response!

Drax has so far been paid a total of £6.5 billion in subsidies, paid for by bill-payers, while Lynemouth Power has received £600,000. These huge subsidies have allowed them to burn millions of tonnes of wood pellets. Much of the wood comes from the clear-felling of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests in the Southern USA, Canada, Estonia and Latvia, Drax has also been accused of driving ‘environmental racism’ in the Southern US after settling air pollution violation claims at its pellet mills. Burning trees is also making the climate crisis worse, as generating a unit of electricity from burning trees is no better than generating it from coal.

Yet regardless of the proven harm caused by Drax and Lynemouth Power, the government has now launched a consultation, indicating that it wants to hand both companies years’ worth of new subsidies, once existing ones run out in 2027! The reason the government gives for this destructive U-turn is that ‘transitional’ subsidies are needed to allow operators time to install carbon capture and storage technology, even though this technology has never been used at scale with woody biomass before, and has had a history of failure with coal fired power stations. Even if carbon capture worked (which it never has, at anywhere near the needed efficiency to be relevant for addressing climate change) it wouldn’t do anything for the forests being destroyed to meet this massive biomass demand, nor for the communities suffering from pollution and noise. But Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) seems a feeble excuse for what would simply be big new subsidies for burning wood as before: to get those subsidies, operators need to produce a couple of reports but do nothing otherwise to develop BECCS – no trials, not even a planning application (Lynemouth Power hasn’t even started on one).

Please help us stop tree-burning power plants getting billions more by responding to the government’s consultation! For the sake of the planet, we have to stop these new subsidies. Together we can. click here to submit your response…
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If you have completed the consultation response and contacted your MP about this but would still like to take further action you can also ask your MP to sign our pledge to stop all subsides for wood burning in power stations here

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Public Participation Obstructed In Rubber Stamp Review Hearing of Phillips 66 Biofuels Refinery Project in California

Wed, 01/17/2024 - 12:03

The saga of the repurposing of two of the refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area to manufacturing liquid biofuels from high deforestation risk commodities like soy took another anti-democratic twist this week. Local authorities sped through a hearing on January 16, 2024 on the revised environmental review of the massive Phillips 66 biofuel refinery project in the unincorporated community of Rodeo on the northern shores of the Bay, rushing to keep the $1 billion investment moving forward while taking measures to curtail public participation in the process.

As background, in May 2022 the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors had previously hosted back to back hearings on both the Phillips 66 biofuel refinery project in Rodeo and the Marathon-Neste joint venture biofuel refinery project in Martinez. That day-long session of hearings was held only because community, environmental and climate justice organizations had appealed the County Planning Commission approvals of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental reviews of the refinery conversion projects earlier that year.

On that day in early May 2022 the Contra Costa County Supervisors unanimously denied the appeals and wholeheartedly green lighted both of the biofuel refinery projects. Following those decisions by local elected officials, the Center for Biological Diversity, in partnership with Communities for a Better Environment, and with the legal and technical expertise of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, filed parallel lawsuits challenging the simultaneous approval of the environmental review of both unprecedented refinery conversion projects. The court case on the Marathon/Neste joint venture at the Martinez refinery resulted in a partial decision exposing flaws with the environmental review, focusing singularly on the flawed odor management plan, an unsatisfactory result for climate justice advocates. That lawsuit has already been sent on to the state appeals court, and will be heard in the coming year.

The Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo has been getting lucrative incentives for making biofuels even though the environmental review of the project was found deficient by a judge.

However, in the case of the Phillips 66 biofuel refinery project, the same judge ruled that the original environmental review of the biofuels project was illegal and had failed to address serious questions of cumulative impacts, while embarking on the illegal tactic of piecemealing — the illegal breaking up of the entirety of a project into discrete pieces, thus averting the legally required review of the project as a whole.

This court ruling prompted county authorities to rush forward with a Draft Revised Environmental Impact Report, which was released and opened to public comment in the autumn of 2023. Biofuelwatch reported extensively on the dynamics around this public comment period in our previous post Court Orders, Refinery Fires and Deforestation Drivers: California Push for Liquid Biofuels Ignores Red Flag Warnings.

Despite being presented with more evidence about the dangers of characterizing the conversion of the more than century old Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery to making biofuels as a climate solution, the county proceeded with great haste to finalize the revised environmental review during the holiday. Precisely four weeks after the close in early December 2023 of written public comment on the draft the county announced the January 16 public hearing to approve the final revised version.

The newest final version of the project review once again roundly dismissed all the evidence and information provided by community members and the organizations that engaged on the public comment. Despite the requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act to assess how new information can influence the veracity of the entirety of the environmental review, the county discarded new factual information provided in the public comment that in essence further substantiated the record of evidence that had resulted in the court of law ruling that the original environmental review was illegal in the first place.

Neither the Board of Supervisors nor County Staff expressed any sort of contrition nor leadership self reflection when faced with the fact that they had previously rubber stamped an environmental review that the court had later found deficient.

Kerry Guerin is an attorney with Communities for a Better Environment who attended the January 2024 hearing on the Phillips 66 project.

Of the evidence presented to the county by community members regarding the safety concerns with the processing of feedstocks like soy was the existence of the most recent draft of what is known as a Flare Minimization Plan (FMP), presented by Phillips 66 on an annual basis for the Rodeo refinery to the local Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). The FMP is an annual requirement, the review of which is buried in the opaque processes of BAAQMD staff and not easily accessible to the public. The late 2023 version of the FMP for the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery apparently still remains confidential. However, the 2022 ‘nonconfidential’ version of the FMP was shared with Biofuelwatch.

Remarkably, despite the fact that Phillips 66 has been making liquid biofuels at their Rodeo refinery since April 2021, more than a year before receiving final approval for their project from the County in May 2022, an anomaly that the court saw as being relevant to the illegal piecemealing of the environmental review of the project, their most recent ‘nonconfidential’ version of their Flare Minimization Plan from October 2022 does not even mention biofuels. As a matter of fact, scrutiny of the 2022 FMP document reveals absolutely no mention of the refinery conversion project at all.

In essence, Phillips 66 has received lucrative Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits from the California Air Resources Board for producing ‘renewable diesel’ from feedstocks like soy and canola with a hydrogen intensive ‘hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids’ hydro cracker technology at their Rodeo refinery, but the most recent publicly available version of the FMP for that same refinery regulated by the local air district BAAQMD does not even mention the words biofuels, renewable diesel, hydrotreated vegetable oils, HEFA, soy, canola, animal tallow or any of the terms that are directly associated with making these products. As far as the BAAQMD supervised Phillips 66 Rodeo Refinery Flare Minimization Plan goes the biofuel project apparently does not even exist.

Notably absent from the recent county supervisors hearing on the revised environmental review were any representatives from BAAQMD, neither to provide comment or to be available to answer questions from decision makers, once again raising questions about to what extent the local air district is fulfilling their responsibility to implement regulatory activities within the context of current and future operations.

This incongruence of biofuel production not even existing in a recent Phillips 66 FMP was brushed aside by county authorities, who also appeared completely unconcerned about the recent devastating fire at the Marathon-Neste biofuel refinery in Martinez. At the same time, the County was obligated in their documentation to recognize that there exist numerable ‘significant and unavoidable environmental impacts‘ from the project. Those impacts were dismissed because of the economic significance of the refinery project.

Tyson Bagley is the United Steelworkers Health and Safety Representative for the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery who attended the January 2024 hearing and spoke in strong support of the Phillips 66 biofuels project.

Notably, and not surprisingly, labor organizations representing workers at the Phillips 66 refinery came out in strong force in support of approval of the project, celebrating the opportunity to keep the refinery operating into the foreseeable future to make ‘renewable’ fuels with ‘renewable’ feedstocks to provide the state with the ‘low carbon’ energy sources that are central to aspirations to achieve ‘decarbonization.’

Adding a particularly grotesque dynamic of inequity to the proceedings was the manner in which the local authorities conducted the review hearing.

After having spent two hours celebrating the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in commemoration of the treasured annual federal holiday, the Board of Supervisors reconvened to hear the agenda item on the Phillips 66 biofuel refinery environmental review. Remarkably, after an abbreviated 15 minute staff presentation that reasserted the urgency of approving the project again, the chair of the Board stated that public comment would be restricted to 1 minute. Though the audience in attendance was predominantly labor and company representatives in Phillips 66 uniform, there were hoots of disbelief from advocates that instead of the traditional 3 minute time allowed for public comment at most public hearings, in this instance an individual speaker would get only one minute. That an individual public comment on an issue of such magnitude and technical complexity would be limited to 1 minute is unheard of with such a small audience.

That the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors would come out of a ceremony dedicated to elevating the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr to immediately open an agenda item on the permitting of a controversial polluting industrial facility owned and operated by a company worth ~$60 billion dollars, and with a long legacy of conflict with affected communities, and tell concerned community members that their time to address the board would be abbreviated in this manner was roundly seen as outrageous — to put it in polite terms.

Even county staff knew, after all they had done to ram the project through, that limiting public comment at the hearing was simply a ‘very bad look.’ The clear obstruction of the public right to meaningful participation that was manifested by the limitation on public comment at the hearing on the Phillips 66 biofuels project clearly accentuates the corporate impunity facilitated by the irregular and industry friendly governance of not only the biofuel refinery issue specifically but of the energy sector in the state more broadly.

It made no difference to the acquiescent and beholden to industry Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, who rapidly moved to approve the Phillips 66 project with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

For more media inquiries contact Gary Hughes (garyhughes.bfw@gmail.com), who is the Americas Program Coordinator with Biofuelwatch.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Government approval of Drax’s BECCS project will cause more forest destruction, campaigners warn

Tue, 01/16/2024 - 08:20

Government approval of Drax’s BECCS project will cause more forest destruction, campaigners warn

  • For immediate release 16th Jan 2024

Secretary of State Claire Coutinho’s decision to approve Drax’s planning application for a carbon capture project, published today [1], has been denounced by environmental campaigners who fear it will pave the way for more forests around the world to be cut down, and millions more tonnes of CO2 to be emitted into the atmosphere every year, using the fig-leaf of an unproven, untested carbon capture technology.

During the planning inquiry, which started in January 2023, Biofuelwatch led the evidence against Drax’s planning application, setting out numerous serious concerns. Those concerns included the fact that Drax’s carbon capture tests have been limited to a total of just 27 tonnes therefore, the effectiveness and the likely air and water pollution of the proposed carbon capture technology remain unknown. 

Furthermore, as Biofuelwatch argued during the Planning Inquiry, Drax’s ability to continue operating its biomass units depends on subsidies which, in turn, will from 2027 depend on planning consent for future carbon capture. [2] Those biomass units burn millions of tonnes of wood pellets every year, all of them imported, mostly from the southeastern USA and British Columbia.

As a BBC Panorama programme revealed in October 2022, at least some of the pellets from British Columbia have been sourced from the clearcutting of primary and old-growth forests. [3] In the southeastern United States, Drax sources a significant proportion of wood pellets from Enviva, who routinely use mature trees from logging coastal hardwood forests in a global biodiversity hotspot. [4]

Katy Brown from Biofuelwatch [5] says: “This decision is bad news for forests and bad news for the climate. Burning trees is not carbon neutral – Drax is the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter – so its claims of achieving negative emissions are farcical. That the UK government is relying on BECCS to meet its climate objectives is extremely dangerous – putting this much faith in BECCS as a climate solution is like trusting that believing in Father Christmas will make him real. The real reason Drax is pushing for BECCS is because they know they won’t be allowed to carry on burning trees unabated without the promise of capturing the carbon some time in the future and the UK government has fallen for the lie. As long as Drax burns trees it will continue to drive forest destruction around the world, harming local communities, and contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change.”

Molly Griffith-Jones  from the Stop Burning Trees Coalition [6] adds: “This  announcement is disastrous. By approving Drax’s BECCS application, the government is showing that they are willing to gamble our future on risky and unproven technology, rather than commit to real climate action. We need investment and jobs in wind, solar, hydropower, retrofitting, not locking us into dirty tree burning energy for decades to come.

Matt Williams, Senior Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, states:  “Planning permission isn’t much use if it’s for a technology that doesn’t exist yet, wrecks the world’s forests, and is probably too expensive for the UK to ever afford. With estimates that BECCS at Drax could need £43 billion of subsidies over 25 years this could be the UK’s next big white elephant development.

Contacts:

Notes:

[1] https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/yorkshire-and-the-humber/drax-bioenergy-with-carbon-capture-and-storage-project/ 

[2] This can be seen, for example, from a report published by Drax today, which warns that without support for the carbon capture project, Drax would not be able to generate any or much electricity in future: https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Baringa_Report_2024_Drax_Power_Station.pdf, p. 10

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-63123774 

[4] See for example https://www.cutcarbonnotforests.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/global-markets-biomass-energy-devastating-us-forests-202306.pdf 

[5] https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk

[6] https://stopburningtrees.org/ 

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

LETTERS AND RESOLUTIONS

Mon, 01/15/2024 - 07:13
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

NGO FACT SHEETS AND REPORTS

Mon, 01/15/2024 - 07:12

The Burning Question: Should the UK end tax breaks on burning wood for power?, Ember, June 2020

Climate finance for bioenergy and tree plantations is fueling conflicts with communities in Brazil, Federica Giunta and Oliver Munnion, FASE (Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional) and Global Forest Coalition, May 2020

Risky business: Canada props up wood pellet export as a false climate solution, Stand.earth, April 2020

Can Biomass Qualify as Renewable Energy? The State of Biomass Policy in South Korea, Solutions For Our Climate (SFOC), April 2020

Can sustainability and greenhouse gas standardsprotect the climate, forests and communities fromthe harmful impacts of wood-based bioenergy?, Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch, March 2020

Forest Management and Climate Change: A New Approach to the French Mitigation Strategy, Gaëtan du Bus de WarnaffeSylvain Angerand, Canopée and Friends of the Earth France, January 2020 

Comments about Graanul Invest compliance with Verification Protocol for Sustainable Solid Biomass SDE  (Dutch biomass sustainability standards), Estonian Fund for Nature, December 2019

Playing with Fire: An assessment of company plans to burn biomass in EU coal power stations, Sandbag, December 2019

Europe’s National Energy and Climate Plans to 2030: Are they fit for purpose?, Fern, December 2019

Improved biomass cookstoves: should they receive climate finance?, Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, December 2019

An investigation into the Global Environment Facility-funded Green Charcoal Project in Uganda, David Kureeba and Oliver Munnion, NAPE (National Association of Professional Environmentalists) and Global Forest Coalition, November 2019

Burnout: E.U. Clean Energy Policies Lead to Forest Destruction, Natural Resources Defense Council, November 2019

Climate Impacts of Industrial Forest Practices inNorth Carolina, Synthesis of best available science and implications for forest carbon policy, Part I, Dogwood Allliance, September 2019

Bioenergy in West Africa: Impacts on Women and Forests, Forest Cover 59, Global Forest Coalition, September 2019

Global Markets for Biomass Energy are Devastating U.S. Forests, Investigation of Enviva’s sourcing practices by Dogwood Alliance, NRDC and Southern Environmental Law Center, June 2019 

The Carbon Impacts of UK Electricity Produced by Burning Wood Pellets from Drax’s Three U.S. Mills, Spatial Informatics Group, commissioned by Southern Environmental Law Center and National Wildlife Federation, May 2019

German climate finance for bioenergy: a threat to forests and climate goals?, Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, November 2018

Are Forests the New Coal? A Global Threat Map of Biomass Energy Development, Environmental Paper Network, October 2018

Fire and Plantations in Portugal: A case study on the risks of using tree plantations to remove carbon from the atmosphere, Oliver Munnion, Global Forest Coalition, September 2018 [Note: Spain and Portugal rely heavily on domestic tree plantations for bioenergy.]

Dirty Deception: How the Wood Biomass Industry Skirts the Clean Air Act, Environmental Integrity Project, April 2018

Covered in smoke, Dr Mike Holland, published by Fern, January 2018 – Report about the air quality impacts of biomass plants in Europe

Something Nasty in the Woodshed: How Biomass Subsidies are Secretly Funding Coal, Sandbag, October 2017

The Sustainable Biomass Program: Smokescreen for Forest Destruction and Corporate Non-Accountability, report by Dogwood Alliance and National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), June 2017

Bioenergy in the EU, report by Hands off the Land and Transnational Institute, December 2016

The Black Book of Bioenergy, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with Transport and Environment, November 2016

Money to Burn? The U.K. Needs to Dump Biomass and Replace Its Coal Plants with Truly Clean Energy, report written by Vivid Economics, published by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), October 2016

Forest Biomass Energy Policy in the Maritime Provinces: Accounting for Science, East Coast Environmental Law, December 2015 – This report looks at the carbon impacts of biomass in or from energy from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada

Up in Flames: How biomass burning wrecks Europe’s forests, Fern, November 2015

Bioenergy threatens the heart of North American wetland forests, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), October 2015

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) modelling of carbon emissions from southeastern US wood pellets, May 2015

Climate for deception: Why electricity consumers who care about global warming and air pollution need FTC protection from biomass industry greenwashing,Kelly Bistow and Mary Booth, Partnership for Policy Integrity, July 2014

A new look at land-grabs in the global South linked to EU biomass policies, Biofuelwatch, June 2014

A calculation of the EU Bioenergy land footprint – Discussion paper on land use related to EU bioenergy targets for 2020 and an outlook for 2030, by Liesbeth de Schutter and Stefan Giljum, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe, May 2014

See here for a summary briefing of the above report by Friends of the Earth Europe

Trees, Trash, and Toxics: How Biomass Energy Has Become the New Coal, by Mary S. Booth, Partnership for Policy Integrity, April 2014

Biomass Sustainability Standards – a Credible Tool for Avoiding Negative Impacts from Large-scale Bioenergy?, joint briefing by Biofuelwatch, Global Forest Coalition and Econexus, January 2014

Report by Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch: Wood Bioenergy: Green Land Grabs For Dirty ‘Renewable’ Energy

Biofuelwatch Report: Biomass: The Chain of Destruction (including the case report Plantations for Energy: A Case Study of Suzano’s plantations for wood pellet exports in the Baixo Parnaíba region, Maranhão, Brazil by Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza  from CEPEDES and Winfridus Overbeek from World Rainforest Movement)

Enviva’s Wood Pellet Mill in Ahoskie,North Carolina Threatens Endangered Ecosystems and Wildlife, NRDC and Dogwood Alliance, August 2013

Biomassacre: How logging Australia’s native forests for bioenergy harms the climate, wildlife, and people, Markets for Change, April 2013

Playing with Fire: Wood pellet fires and explosion,  compilation of accidents between 2008 and 2012, Port Talbot Residents Against Power Stations, 2013

Dirtier than coal? Why Government plans to subsidise burning trees are bad for the planet, RSPB, Greenpeace  and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, November 2012

Sustainable Biomass: A Modern Myth, Biofuelwatch report, September 2012

Bio-Economies: The EU’s real ‘green economy’ agenda?, report published by World Development Movement and Transnational Institute, June 2012

Bio-Economy versus Biodiversity, Report by the Global Forest Coalition, 25th April 2012

Impact of EU bioenergy policies on developing countries, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, European Commission, Policy Briefing, March 2012

The new trend of biomass plantations in Brazil: tree monocultures, Winnie Overbeek, World Rainforest Movement, November 2011

Massachusetts Forests at the Crossroads: Forests, Parks, Landscapes, Environment, Quality of Life, Communities and Economy Threatened by Industrial Scale Logging & Biomass Power, Massachusetts Forest Watch, report, March 2009 – 12 MB file

The Biomass Dilemma, Dr Ivan Gyulai, CEEweb, 2008

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

INFORMATIVE WEBSITES ABOUT WOOD-BASED BIOENERGY

Mon, 01/15/2024 - 07:11

Biomess101: A project by Partnership for Policy Integrity which exposes the misinformation about wood-based bioenergy and counters it with fact-based information

Climate and Forest:  A website created by Protect the Forest, Sweden which analyses and rebuts myths and claims by logging and bioenergy companies with good science-based information

Dogwood Alliance “Our Forests aren’t Fuel” campaign: Joint campaign by conservation NGOs to protect southern US forests from destruction for bioenergy

Energy Justice Network, resources on biomass incineration: “Energy Justice is the grassroots energy agenda, supporting communities threatened by polluting energy and waste technologies. Taking direction from our grassroots base and the Principles of Environmental Justice, we advocate a clean energy, zero-emission, zero-waste future for all.”  US-based.

Environmental Paper Network: The Environmental Paper Network is an network of NGOs which, as one of its projects, hosts an international working group on biomass.

EU Bioenergy: A joint project by BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Transport & Environment (T&E) with news and analysis about bioenergy in the EU

EU Biomass Legal Case: A summary of the evidence presented to the European Court in a challenge to the treatment of bioenergy in the post-2020  EU Renewable Energy Directive

Natural Resources Defense Council “Our Forests aren’t Fuel” campaign: NRDC website about the joint campaign to protect southern US forests from destruction for bioenergy

Partnership for Policy Integrity: “The Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) uses science, legal action, and strategic communications to promote sound energy policy.” Good science-based resources and reports about wood-based bioenergy.  US-based.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

RESOURCES ON (WOOD) BIOMASS FOR HEAT AND POWER

Mon, 01/15/2024 - 06:34

SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES AND REPORTS

Climate Change Solutions: Sensible or Misguided?, The School of Public Policy Publications, University of Calgary, September 2019 – It concludes: “We argue that emissions from bioenergy should be treated in the same way as emissions from fossil fuels and this leaves many developed countries in a deep hole for reducing emissions. Based on the analysis in this study, we recommend that Canada pursue strategic policy directions and the design of unique and rational innovation programs.

Serious mismatches continue between science and policy in forest bioenergy, Michael Norton et.al., Global Change Biology Bioenergy, August 2019

Reconsidering bioenergy given the urgency of climate protection, John M. DeCicco and William H. Schlesinger, PNAS, September 2018

Revised European Union renewable-energy policies erode nature protection,
Klaus Josef Hennenberg et.al., Nature Ecology and Evolution, August 2018

Commentary by the European Academies’ ScienceAdvisory Council (EASAC) on Forest Bioenergy  and Carbon Neutrality, June 2018

Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Demand and Supply in Selected EU Member States, Chatham House report by Duncan Brack June 2018

Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU Supplementary analysis and interpretation for the European Climate Foundation by Robert Matthews, Geoff Hogan and Ewan Mackie of Forest Research, the research agency of the UK Forestry Commission, May 2018

The effects of logging residue extraction for energy on ecosystem services and biodiversity: A synthesis, Thomas Ranius et.al., Journal of Environmental Management, March 2018

EU Bioenergy Policies Will Increase Carbon Dioxide Concentrations, Dr. William R. Moomaw, Global Development And Environment InstituteTufts University Climate Policy Brief 7, February 2018

Not carbon neutral: Assessing the net emissions impact of residues burned for bioenergy, Mary S Booth, Environmental Research Letters, February 2018

Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy, John D Sterman et.al. Environmental Research Letters, January 2018

Does the world have low-carbon bioenergy potential from the dedicated use of land?, Timothy D Searchinger et.al., Energy Policy, September 2017

Multi-functionality and sustainability in the European Union’s forests,  European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), May 2017 (includes discussion about wood-based bioenergy)

The Impacts of the Demand for Woody Biomass for Power and Heat on Climate and Forests, Duncan Brack, Chatham House, February 2017 [Not a peer-reviewed study, but a science review by an independent think tank]

Biodiversity: Complementary canopies, Bernhard Schmid and Pascal A. Niklaus, Nature Ecology & Evolution, March 2017 AND associated article Spatial complementarity in tree crowns explains overyielding in species mixtures, Laura J. Williams et.al., Nature Ecology & Evolution, December 2016: These articles do not directly focus on bioenergy, however they are relevant to this debate because they explore a key reason why monoculture tree plantations sequester less carbon than biodiverse forests.

Bioenergy production and forest landscape change in the southeastern United States, Jennifer K. Costanza, Global Change Biology Bioenergy, August 2016 (Study based on modelling of potential landscape changes from wood pellet and wood-based biofuel production in North Carolina, highlighting the likely expansion of industrial tree plantations at the expense of biodiverse bottomland hardwoods.

Projected gains and losses of wildlife habitat from bioenergy-induced landscape change, Nathan M. Tarr et al., Global Change Biology Bioenergy, August 2016 (Study based on simulated modelling which looks at the potential impacts of wood-pellet production in North Carolina on different species)

Recycle, Bury, or Burn Wood Waste Biomass?: LCA Answer Depends on Carbon Accounting, Emissions Controls, Displaced Fuels, and Impact Costs, Jeffrey Morris, Journal of Industrial Ecology, August 2016

The carbon neutrality of electricity generation from woody biomass and coal, a critical comparative evaluation, Victor Nian, Applied Energy, October 2016

Energy Sprawl Is the Largest Driver of Land Use Change in United States, Anne M. Trainor et.al.,  PLoS ONE, September 2016 (Contains figures for the land footprint of each energy source – with biomass far exceeding that of any other type of energy)

Evidence for Losses From Strongly Bound SOM [Soil Organic Matter] Pools After Clear Cutting in a Northern Hardwood Forest, Emily M. Lacroix et.al., Soil Science, April 2016 (Indirectly related to bioenergy: Study about soil carbon losses following clearcutting)

Range and uncertainties in estimating delays in greenhouse gas mitigation potential of forest bioenergy sourced from Canadian forests, Jérôme Laganière et.al., Global Change Biology Bioenergy, December 2015

Thinning Combined With Biomass Energy Production May Increase, Rather Than Reduce, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, D.A. DellaSala and M. Koopman, Report by Geos Institute, November 2015 (Scientific report rather than peer-reviewed study)

Forest soil carbon is threatened by intensive biomass harvesting, David L. Achat et al, Scientific Report, November 2015

How certain are greenhouse gas reductions from bioenergy? Life cycle assessment and uncertainty analysis of wood pellet-to-electricity supply chains from forest residues, Mirjam Röder et.al., Biomass and Bioenergy, August 2015 [This article looks at methane emissions from woodchip and pellet storage.]

Quantifying consequences of removing harvesting residues on forest soils and tree growth – A meta-analysis, D.L. Achat et al, Forest Ecology and Management, July 2015 [This meta-analysis looks at the impacts of ‘whole tree harvesting’, which is increasingly practised for bioenergy, on soil nutrients and future tree growth and finds serious negative impacts.]

Limits to Sustainable Use of Wood Biomass, Janis Abolins and Janis Gravitis, Sustainable Development, Knowledge Society and Smart Future Manufacturing Technologies, World Sustainability Series 2015, April 2015 [The authors looked at bioenergy sourced from fast growing tree plantations and “argue that generating electricity by burning wood is an extremely inefficient use of land under conditions of sustainable supply of the fuel and conclude that transfer to bio-energy without radical changes in the existing economic system would further aggravate the environmental crisis.”]

Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, Tim Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich, published by World Resources Institute, January 2015 [Scientific report, not peer-reviewed study]

Position Statement on Bioenergy by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen)

The Burning Question: Does Forest Bioenergy Reduce Carbon Emissions? A Review of Common Misconceptions about Forest Carbon Accounting, Michael T. Ter-Mikaelian et al, Journal of Forestry, November 2014

Projected CO2 Emissions Due to Increased Logging Under Senator Ron Wyden’s “Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013, Dr. Olga Krankina, Courtesy Faculty, Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, September 2014 [Note increased logging is proposed in part to serve the needs of energy companies seeking to burn biomass in the US.]

Life-Cycle Impacts of Biomass Electricity in 2020, Dr Anna Stephenson and Professor David MacKay, DECC, July 2014 [This study looks at a range of different scenarios for life-cycle CO2 emissions associated with pellets imported from North America to the UK.]

Forest biomass for energy in the EU: current trends, carbon balance and sustainable potential, IINAS, EFI and Joanneum Research, prepared for BirdLife Europe, EEB and Transport Environment, May 2014

Forestry Bioenergy in the Southeast United States: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity, J.M. Evans et al, National Wildlife Federation, December 2013 [This is not  a peer-reviewed study but a report produced through a collaboration of researchers at different universities.

Ecological limits to terrestrial carbon dioxide removal, Lydia J. Smith and Margaret S. Torn, Climatic Change (2013)  [Note: This article specifically looks at Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage as well as at tropical ‘afforestation’, which the authors define as meaning primarily industrial pine and eucalyptus plantations established at the expense of shrubland and grassland.  Many of the findings are relevant to large-scale bioenergy in general.]

The ‘debt’ is in the detail: A synthesis of recent temporal forest carbon analyses on woody biomass for energy, Patrick Lamers and Martin Junginger, Biofuels, Bioprod, July/August 2013 [Note that the authors presume that most wood pellets are currently produced from residues.  There is evidence to the contrary from the southern US and no independent analysis has been carried out in other regions.]

JRC Technical Reports – Carbon Accounting of forest bioenergy, Conclusions and recommendations from a critical literature review, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, 2013

Dead Forests Release Less Carbon Into Atmosphere Than Expected  Trees killed in the wake of widespread mountain pine beetle infestations have not resulted in a large spike in carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, contrary to predictions, a University of Arizona-led study has found. Published in Ecology Letters March 2013 as:  Persistent reduced ecosystem respiration after insect disturbance in high elevation forests

Mineral soil carbon fluxes in forests and implications for carbon balance assessments, Thomas Buchholz et al, GCB Bioenergy, January 2013 – See here for a Science Daily article summarising the key findings, including: “The findings suggest that calls for an increased reliance on forest biomass be re-evaluated and that forest carbon analyses are incomplete unless they include deep soil, which stores more than 50 percent of the carbon in forest soils.”

Site-specific global warming potentials of biogenic CO2 for bioenergy: contributions from carbon fluxes and albedo dynamics, Francesco Cherubini et al, Environmental Research Letters, November 2012 – for an interview with the lead author see here.

The outcome is in the assumptions: analyzing the effects on atmospheric CO2 levels of increased use of bioenergy from forest biomass, Bjart Holtsmark, 5th October 2012, GCB Bioenergy

Sound Principles and an Important Inconsistency in the 2012 UK Bioenergy Strategy, Tim Searchinger, September 2012

Global Consequences of the Bioenergy Greenhouse Gas Accounting Error, Tim Searchinger, 2012 (for a background presentation by the author, see here)

Using ecosystem CO2 measurements to estimate the timing and magnitude of greenhouse gas mitigation potential of forest bioenergy,  Pierre Bernier and David Paré, July 2012 (looking at the carbon impact of sourcing wood from boreal forests in Canada for energy)

Correcting a fundamental error in greenhouse gas accounting related to bioenergy, Helmut Haberl et. al., Energy Policy, Elsevier, June 2012

Large-scale bioenergy from additional harvest of forest biomass is neither sustainable nor greenhouse gas neutral, Ernst-Detlef Schulze et al, April 2012

Biogenic vs. geologic carbon emissions and forest biomass energy production, John S Gunn et al, GCB Bioenergy, April 2012

Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests, Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Forest Guild, and Spatial Informatics Group for Southern Environmental Law Center and National Wildlife Federation, February 2012

Carbon debt and carbon sequestration parity in forest bioenergy production, Stephen R. Mitchell et al, January 2012

Carbon emissions associated with the procurement and utilization of forest harvest residues for energy, northern Minnesota, USA, Grant M. Domke et.al., Biomass and Bioenergy, January 2012

Is woody bioenergy carbon neutral? A comparative assessment of emissions from consumption of woody bioenergy and fossil fuel, Giuliana Zanchi et al, December 2011 – For a background presentation by one of the authors, see here.

Can fuel-reduction treatments really increase forest carbon storage in the western US by reducing future fire emissions?, John L. Campbell et al, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, December 2011 [Note: This article specifically looks at the carbon impacts of forest thinning for fire prevention, rather than at how the timber from forest thinning is then used.  However, wood from forest thinning for this purpose is being widely promoted as ‘sustainable’ bioenergy.]

Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production, Tara W. Hudiburg et al, Nature Climate Change, 23rd October 2011

Opinion of the European Environment Agency Scientific Committee on Greenhouse Gas Accounting in Relation to Bioenergy, September 2011

Harvesting in boreal forests and the biofuel carbon debt, Bjart Holtsmark, August 2011

Forest Bioenergy or Forest Carbon? Assessing Trade-Offs in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation with Wood-Based Fuels, J.McKechnie et al, March 2011. summarised here

Effect of policy-based bioenergy demand on southern timber markets: A case study of North Carolina, Robert C. Abt et al, Biomass and Energy (34)

Review of the Manomet Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study, Mary Booth for the Clean Air Task Force, July 2010

The upfront carbon debt of bioenergy, Joanneum Research, July 2010

Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, June 2010

Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations for Land Use and Energy, Marshall Wise et al, May 2010

Forest carbon storage in the northeastern United States: Net effects of harvesting
frequency, post-harvest retention, and wood products, Jared S. Nunery and William S. Keeton, Forest Ecology and Management, March 2010 [Not specifically about bioenergy, this article compares carbon impacts of leaving mature northern hardwood forests undisturbed with those of different logging practices and finds that “even with consideration of C sequestered in harvested wood products, unmanaged northern hardwood forests will sequester 39 to 118% more C than any of the active management options evaluated.]

Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error, Timothy Searchinger et al, October 2009

Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate policy impacts on natural habitats for the United States of America, Robert I McDonald et al, PLoS ONE 4(8): e6802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006802, August 2009

All The Carbon Counts: Including Land-Based Carbon In Greenhouse Gas Control Strategies Lowers Costs And Preserves Forests, Science Daily, June 2009

Goodbye to Carbon Neutral, Eric Johnson, 2008

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Who We are

Thu, 01/04/2024 - 03:42

Biofuelwatch provides information and undertakes advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, biodiversity, land and human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy.  We are a small team of staff and volunteers based in Europe (including UK) and the USA. Our work has recently been supported by grants from Ceres Trust, CS Fund/Wash-Mott Legacy, Grassroots Foundation, NRDC, Packard Foundation, Patagonia Foundation, Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, Moore Charitable Foundation, Threshold Foundation and Swift Foundation. We are also grateful for smaller individual donations. Please see our donations page for details about how to support our work.

Please see our Privacy Statement

Our Chartiable Purpose

Biofuelwatch aims to advance citizenship and environmental protection through

-Advancing the education of the public about the environmental, climate, social and
public health impacts of different types of large-scale bioenergy as well as bio-based
products.

-Promoting sustainable renewable energy policies and investments which result in real
greenhouse gas reduction, protect ecosystems, soil, water and public health and which
protect human rights, including the right to food and water;

-Promoting environmental decision making in relation to bioenergy and other bio-based
products – including bioenergy-related decisions on land use and environmental
permitting – which prioritise the protection of climate, environment, social justice and
public health and promoting active citizenship in this respect.

Our Mission

Biofuelwatch provides systemic analysis based on secondary and occasionally primary research and undertakes advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, environmental, human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy.

Our History

Biofuelwatch was founded in the UK in 2006 and shortly thereafter expanded to the US in 2008. The organisation began with a dedicated campaign against EU biofuel targets followed by US biofuel proposed at the time. We worked as part of an international network of organisations opposed to those targets because of their expected (and sadly now realised) negative impacts on forests, climate, land rights, and food sovereignty and security. We worked at the forefront of raising the alarm about the implications of creating an unprecedented and vast additional demand for crops and wood for energy. Though we were not able to prevent the policies from being put in place, we did set in motion a strong resistance that has continued now for over 15 years.

Within the first two years, we changed from being a purely volunteer-run UK group to becoming a UK-US organisation with our first funded staff member. Since 2010, our focus has been increasingly on the expansion of large-scale wood bioenergy, although we have continued to work on liquid biofuels and on a set of different bioenergy technologies.

Between 2008 and 2012, we led a highly successful UK campaign against burning palm oil and other liquid biofuels for heat and power. Today, no palm oil is burned for energy in this country. The campaign, which combined community outreach and resistance to proposed biofuel power and heat plants with national advocacy against subsidies for this form of energy, became a blueprint for our subsequent work against biomass plants in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Who We are and what we do

Biofuelwatch has a team of volunteer and staff members based in the UK and the USA. While relatively small, Biofuelwatch has out-sized influence as a result of our global network of trusted and longstanding collaborative relationships with many other organisations and individuals.

We know that effective change requires engagement with this issue at all levels from local communities to policy makers, and seek to ensure that the bioenergy concern becomes integrated and not siloed. Central to our mission, we recognise that a key to success in opposing industrial bioenergy is collaboration with climate and energy activists working to transition away from fossil fuels. It is imperative that we ensure bioenergy is not promoted as the alternative to fossil energy. If we are to bring about the broad systemic change with effective and justice-based solutions we must work together and do so with a holistic and strategic approach.


Over the years our work has taken many forms, but primarily we undertake research on bioenergy related technologies and policies, provide educational materials, assist community activists impacted by biomass and biofuel developments, help build capacity for other organisations, participate in relevant government and agency consultations, help to coordinate various national and international networks, have participated with the UNFCCC and UN Convention on Biological Diversity processes and served as reviewers for IPCC reports.


Biofuelwatch is recognized globally as a “go to” resource for critical analyses, providing rigorous well referenced briefings and reports that can provide a solid base from which to develop campaign work and enhance public and policy-maker’s understanding of the issues and consequences of large scale bioenergy and its environmental and human rights implications.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

New Biofuelwatch briefing exposes Tuzla power plant’s planned biomass unit as a dead end

Thu, 12/21/2023 - 08:11
A new briefing by Biofuelwatch, launched today, has revealed that the planned use of biomass energy crops in a new unit at the Tuzla coal power plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina is an unfeasible and environmentally risky endeavour.

21st December 2023

The briefing is available in English (https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2023/src-west-balkan-briefing) and in Western Balkan languages (https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2023/src-izvjestaj-za-zapadni-balkan/).

Despite a September 2022 agreement by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and energy utility Elektroprivreda BiH to pursue the construction of a new biomass unit at the Tuzla power plant [1], the proposal to burn willow biomass is shrouded in uncertainty.

Notably, the EBRD feasibility study for the project has not been completed even a year after its initiation, and according to the draft National Energy and Climate Plan for BiH [2], the proposed biomass capacity has been halved from 100 MW to 50 MW.

As per EPBiH’s official statements [3], in an effort to overcome limitations on available biomass, the Tuzla power plant plans to rely heavily on fast-growing willow plantations primarily grown on former open-cast coal mines, supplemented by additional Short Rotation Coppicing (SRC) willow from farmers when necessary.

However, Biofuelwatch’s analysis highlights that SRC willow plantations have not been successful in Europe despite decades of effort. Economic challenges that farmers face and their inability to recoup investments, even with subsidies, raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of large-scale SRC plantations.

Alarmingly, the proposed 50 MWe biomass unit in Tuzla would require an estimated 29,000 hectares of land, more than double the size of Sarajevo, based on the average yield of SRC willow on farmland stated by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Additionally, SRC willow’s high water requirements make it far from drought-resistant. Failed SRC willow trials in Šićki Brod [4] further underline the challenges associated with implementing such projects.

Denis Zisko, Aarhus Centre BiH: ‘We lost 15 years listening to fairy tales about new coal power plants. Now the BiH authorities and Elektroprivreda BiH have created a new fairytale about biomass that could cost us another 15 years. It is time for our authorities to get their act together, admit that there is no future in burning stuff to produce energy, and finally start working on sustainable renewable solutions based on solar, wind, and geothermal energy combined with energy efficiency measures and energy storage solutions.’

Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch: ‘Our research clearly shows that short-rotation coppicing, regardless of whether it is done on former coal mine surface or on farmland, cannot realistically meet more than a tiny fraction of the biomass demand of one or more, let alone the biomass plants proposed by EPBiH. Inevitably, most of the biomass will have to come from forests, which is deeply alarming in a region where illegal logging is widespread and forest degradation rampant.’

Natasa Kovacevic, CEE Bankwatch Network: ‘Even without considering the environmental impact of burning energy crops, the lack of credible success stories and the challenges of growing willow in short rotations on former coal mine sites raises serious doubts about the feasibility of this transition. We urge the EBRD and the EPBiH to halt the wasteful expenditure of time and money on this absurd project of replacing the Tuzla 3 unit with a biomass plant.’

The groups call for the funds to be redirected towards using geothermal energy for district heating needs and developing thermal energy storage in salt mines and advise authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to capitalize on the increasing opportunities for assistance in developing district heating modernization projects.

For instance, the EIB’s JASPERS programme has pledged to triple its technical assistance for investment preparation and project implementation in the next six years, while grants and loans available through the Western Balkans Growth Plan can be utilized to invest in clean heating systems [6].

Notes for editors:

[1] EBRD to back Bosnia’s Tuzla TPP project with 50 mln euro loan: https://seenews.com/news/ebrd-to-back-bosnias-tuzla-tpp-project-with-50-mln-euro-loan-797457

[2] http://www.mvteo.gov.ba/data/Home/Dokumenti/Energetika/Nacrt_NECP_BiH_loc.pdf

[3] BiH to convert Tuzla coal unit to biomass (50 MW) by 2030 https://www.energetika.net/eu/novice/ecology/bih-to-convert-tuzla-coal-unit-to-biomass-50-mw-by-2030

[4] Video: https://youtu.be/90lR2mDPayY

[5] EIB and European Commission to triple advisory support for the Western Balkans under the JASPERS programme https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2023-412-eib-and-european-commission-to-triple-advisory-support-for-the-western-balkans-under-the-jaspers-programme

[6] 2023 Regulation proposal Reform and Growth Facility Western Balkans https://neighbourhood-enlargement.ec.europa.eu/2023-regulation-proposal-reform-and-growth-facility-western-balkans_en

 

 

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Short-rotation coppicing: No credible option for fuelling new biomass plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tue, 12/19/2023 - 22:00
Click here to download the briefing Summary:

Elektroprivreda BiH (EPBiH) is proposing to at least partly convert two coal plant units in Bosnia and Herzegovina to biomass. The company has stated that it would rely largely on Short-Rotation Coppicing (SRC), namely fast-growing willow plantations, grown primarily on former opencast coal mine sites, but with
additional purchases from farmers when required. The possibility of establishing Paulownia plantations for biomass sourcing has also been mentioned.

Paulownia tree plantations have not been successfully established anywhere in the world, and larger-scale plantings in Australia and New Zealand ended in failure and, for some farmers, loss of livelihoods. An economic analysis of a small-scale trial in Italy suggests that Paulownia could only be economic if grown  or high-value timber products, with only the residues used for energy. There are no credible reasons to assume that large-scale plantations of a tree species never successfully grown in plantations anywhere in the world could be established in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the near future.

In some European countries, willow and poplar have been grown in SRC plantations for several decades, but only on a very limited scale and with government
subsidies. IEA [International Energy Agency] Bioenergy states that, based on case studies from seven countries, the average yield of SRC willow grown on farmland is 7 oven dried tonnes per hectare per year. Based on that figure, the proposed 50 MWe biomass unit in Tuzla would require around 29,000 hectares  of land, which is more than twice the size of the city of Sarajevo.

Furthermore, SRC willow requires more water than conventional arable crops, i.e. it is far from drought resistant. An EPBiH trial to grow SRC willow on a former opencast mining site appears to have failed. A similar trial in the Appalachians in the USA was more successful in so far as most of the saplings
survived after two years, however, harvesting that willow was still not economically viable and yields were lower than for SRC willow grown on farmland.

Furthermore, according to EPBiH, less than 800 hectares of suitable former coal mine sites would be available – a small proportion of the land needed to grow
sufficient willow to fuel even one 50 MWe plant.

In practice, and based on experiences across Europe, there is no realistic possibility of fuelling even one, let alone three of the proposed biomass projects
with wood from SRC. Once built or converted, those units will have to burn biomass that is readily available – and that will almost certainly mean burning forest
wood, in a region where intensive and often illegal logging is already rampant.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Plantažni zasadi kratke ophodnje: nema isplative opcije za razvoj novih postrojenja na plantažnu biomasu u Bosni i Hercegovini

Tue, 12/19/2023 - 22:00
Kliknite ovdje za preuzimanje Sažetak:

Elektroprivreda BiH (EPBiH) predlaže da se dvije elektrane na ugalj u Bosni i Hercegovini u jednom dijelu konvertuju u postrojenja na biomasu. EPBIH je navela da će se u velikoj mjeri oslanjati na zasade iz plantaža kratke ophodnje (eng. SRC – short rotation coppicing), odnosno brzorastuće plantaže vrbe. Takođe je spomenuta mogućnost uspostavljanja plantaža Paulovnije za izvor biomase.

Zasadi Paulovnije nisu uspješno uspostavljeni nigdje u svijetu, veći zasadi u Australiji i Novom Zelandu završili su neuspjehom, dok za neke poljoprivrednike i gubitkom sredstava za život. Ekonomska analiza manjeg eksperimentalnog zasada u Italiji sugeriše da bi Paulovnija mogla biti ekonomski isplativa samo ako se uzgaja za visokovrijedne drvne proizvode, s tim da se za proizvodnju energije koriste isključivo njeni drvni ostaci.

U nekim evropskim zemljama vrba i topola se uzgajaju u plantažama kratke ophodnje već nekoliko decenija, ali u vrlo ograničenom obimu i uz državne subvencije. Dostupno je vrlo malo informacija o prosječnim prinosima sa plantaža kratke ophodnje po hektaru u stvarnom svijetu, a ne u optimalnim eksperimentalnim uslovima. Međutim, podaci koje je objavila švedska energetska kompanija Vattenfall pokazuju da njihovi plantažni zasadi kratke ophodnje u Njemačkoj i Poljskoj postižu prosječne prinose od samo 5,15 tona osušenih u peći po hektaru godišnje. Na osnovu te brojke, čak i termoelektrana manja od najmanjeg obima predloženog za jedinicu na biomasu u elektrani Tuzla zahtijevala bi površinu plantažnih zasada kratke ophodnje većih od područja Sarajeva. Nadalje, plantažni zasadi kratke ophodnje vrba zahtijevaju više vode od konvencionalnih ratarskih kultura, odnosno daleko od toga da se mogu klasifikovati kao otporni na sušu.

U praksi, a na osnovu iskustava širom Evrope, ne postoji realna mogućnost da se tri jedinice od 50 MW ili čak velike jedinice na biomasu napajaju drvetom iz SRC-a. Kada se jednom izgrade ili preurede, te jedinice će morati da sagorevaju biomasu koja je lako dostupna – a to će gotovo sigurno značiti sagorevanje šumskog drveta, u regionu u kojem već raste intenzivna i često nelegalna sječa.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

NEWSLETTER DEC 2023

Fri, 12/15/2023 - 06:17
Welcome to our final newsletter of 2023 full of updates about campaigns that we – and you – have been supporting, and policy developments.  Click here to sign up to our mailing list 

1. Reflection on the year

2. MP Pledge

3. Fundraising appeal 

4. Update from California 

5. Big biomass appears in an invisibility cloak in the COP28 decision

1.Reflection on the year

We started the year by sharing our 15 year report which looked back at some of our campaigning over the years in the UK, Europe, USA and beyond. Our reflection has inspired us to document the amazing work which is ongoing through an annual review, the first of which we published early this year. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our calls to action, online and in person. We will continue to challenge climate wrecking companies, and the false solutions promoted by Drax, and Lynemouth, to help protect communities and forests across the globe.  

Campaigning in the UK: We joined and hosted a number of actions this year including The Big One and Drax AGM, we have added a selection of photos and videos of this to our website which you can see by clicking here. On the 15th and 16th of September Biofuelwatch joined campaigners from around the world for a weekend of action calling for an end to climate wrecking fossil fuels and tree burning. Actions included rallies in London, Leeds and Edinburgh, a two day Barclays protest in Liverpool, and online photo actions. Following the actions in September we turned our attention to mobilise for the International Day of Action Against Big Biomass on the 19th October. We were part of a network of over 200 NGOs globally taking action to highlight the negative environmental and social impacts of large scale biomass energy. We were joined by activists in London, Liverpool and York outside Barclays to highlight the bank’s financing of biomass, and calling on it to “Drop Drax”. We also took part alongside other organisations in challenging Drax’s application for consent to develop BECCS at its Selby plant. We have also continued to host and present at webinars and workshops. Thank you to everyone who has joined us, if you missed any you can find all our webinars and videos on our YouTube channel here.

Stop Burning Trees: It’s been a busy year for the Stop Burning Trees Coalition! From coalition members working tirelessly on objecting to Drax’s BECCS application, to organising protests outside DESNZ, Drax’s AGM, Barclays and around the UK – the coalition has been doing everything it can to resist Drax’s greenwash. Alongside Biofuelwatch and other coalition members we’ve launched e-actions, putting pressure on politicians around the country to stop the subsidy regime. In Yorkshire, SBT has been part of a number of campaigns including calling on York Pride to cut ties with Drax; calling on universities to #DropDrax from careers fairs; and working on a local outreach strategy to help raise awareness of the harm Drax is committing and, most importantly, the green transformation we could have if we redirected tree burning subsidies to genuine renewables and green jobs.

US campaigning: In the Western US our colleague has played an active role alongside other groups working in coalition to stop the arrival of the global wood pellet industry to California. Our education and advocacy has also aimed to address and mitigate the harms of a dangerous turn to liquid biofuels which we are seeing in the state. Biofuelwatch also continues to serve on the steering committee for the Campaign to Stop GE Trees. This past year has seen ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the underlying motivations for genetically engineering trees. 

Campaigning in Europe: We continue our campaigning work outside of the UK in other European countries through networking with and supporting NGOs and grassroots groups in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Estonia, Portugal and the west Balkans, you can see more in our annual report. 

Thank you again to everyone who has supported our campaigns throughout the year globally, while we have given a brief reflection here there is so much more we have included in our annual report. 

2. MP Pledge

Our MP pledge is still ongoing, if you have not done so already please email your MP about the pledge here, if you have already contacted your MP and have received a reply please email the reply to us at biofuelwatch@gmail.com as we can help you with a response. Better still, one of the most effective ways to engage with your MP is to meet with them. If you have written to your MP and not received a reply you can call them asking for a response to your email or you can ask to meet them face to face. We have prepared lots of resources here which can help you. 

3. Fundraising Appeal

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 donate 4. Update from California

Our colleague in California has added a new blog addressing concerns about authorities in California continuing their push for liquid biofuels despite a series of red flag warnings about public safety and climate impacts. You can read the full blog below:

Read Gary’s full blog here 5. Big biomass appears in an invisibility cloak in the COP28 decision

Our Colleagues at EPN released a PR this week on COP28 decision text which heightens concern over big biomass energy expansion, its high carbon emissions and community impacts. You can read more here.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Court Orders, Refinery Fires and Deforestation Drivers: California Push for Liquid Biofuels Ignores Red Flag Warnings

Wed, 12/13/2023 - 19:04

Despite a series of dramatic red flag warnings about public safety and climate impacts, compounded by errors in governance, California authorities continue to push hard for completing the conversion of refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area to operate as the largest liquid biofuel manufacturing facilities in the world.

Starting in the summer of 2020, in the wake of the demand destruction of the pandemic slow down, two of five refineries in the SF Bay Area have pursued ‘repurposing’ to manufacture ‘drop in’ diesel and aviation fuels from high deforestation risk commodities like animal tallow and soy.

The two refinery conversion projects are the Marathon biofuels joint venture with Neste at the Marathon Martinez refinery and the Phillips 66 biofuel project at the Rodeo refinery, both on the shores of San Francisco Bay. Though there are subtle differences between the two refineries, both would be operating with nearly identical fossil gas and hydrogen intensive refining processes for manufacturing liquid biofuels.

The Marathon Martinez biofuels refinery is located on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Delta in Contra Costa County and was the site of a serious fire in November 2023.

Both biofuel refineries have been subject to litigation due to their irregular and inadequate environmental review, but it was the Marathon Martinez refinery that was thrust into the public view when fires broke out in November, including one very serious fire incident that resulted in an injured worker being helicoptered off the refinery grounds to the burn center at UC Davis. Concerns around this fire were extensive enough that an investigation of the incident and of the conditions at the refinery has been initiated by the US Chemical Safety Board.

Safety concerns with refining biofuels have been central to community stakeholder and independent expert engagement on the environmental review processes for both the Marathon and Phillips 66 refinery conversion projects since the beginning of public participation. As things have progressed, concerns have only mounted. During the summer and fall of 2023 the local independent consultancy Community Energy Re-Source had shared with Biofuelwatch and other community stakeholders alarming findings based on data from flaring reports from the Marathon Martinez biofuels facility that had been submitted to and recorded by the local Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The data is clear that flaring was occurring at an exceptionally high rate at the refinery that in January 2023 had started up operations for making ‘renewable diesel’ from lipid feedstocks like animal tallow and soy.

The fire at the Marathon Martinez biofuel refinery, as tragically unfortunate as it is, was also an incident that was predicted by informed and experienced local advocates — but the permitting authorities with Contra Costa County, responsible for local land use decision making and acting as the lead agency on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the refinery conversions, have continued to ignore community concerns and stonewall robust public participation in the environmental review of the projects.

As an example of how the County has tried to minimize these public safety issues, when the November incidents at the Marathon Martinez refinery erupted, the County was in the process of taking public comment on the court ordered Draft Revised Environmental Impact Report (Draft REIR) of the Phillips 66 project. The court had ordered a revision of the original 2022 environmental review as an outcome of year long litigation by Communities for a Better Environment and the Center for Biological Diversity challenging the approval of the CEQA review by the County. After a year of briefing and a series of court hearings, the Court ruled in August 2023 that the CEQA review of the Phillips 66 project was seriously flawed, due to illegal piece mealing of the project and the failure to do adequate cumulative impact analysis.

The Court ordered that the previous Final EIR be decertified, and that a Revised EIR for the Phillips 66 project be circulated for public comment, which happened in late October 2023. Immediately after the November 2023 fire at the Marathon facility local stakeholders began requesting of County staff an extension in the public comment period on the Draft REIR for the Phillips 66 project, arguing that, because of the extensive similarities between the projects, the information from the investigation of the root causes of the Marathon Martinez biofuel refinery fire would be relevant to the quality of the environmental review of the Phillips 66 project.

These requests for an extension in public comment were not frivolous. Community Energy Re-Source articulated to the County that a California Public Records Act request made to the Contra Costa County Hazard Materials Programs regarding the Marathon Martinez November refinery fire would not be completed until Dec 21, nearly two weeks after the close of the Phillips 66 comment period.

The request was made to the County to extend the public comment period to insure that the findings from the investigations by all relevant authorities of what happened at the Marathon Martinez biofuel project could be integrated into the review of the Phillips 66 project. For Biofuelwatch, this logic is impeccable.

These requests for an extension of the public comment period on the Phillips 66 project fell on deaf ears. Apparently the issues of public safety and the clear indication that this is a matter of heightened public interest are not sufficient for County regulators to try to get as much information as possible before advancing the refinery conversion project. The County denied all requests for an extension of the recent Phillips 66 public comment period, diminishing the seriousness of the court ruling that the original CEQA review was deficient, callously playing down community concerns after the dramatic emergency at the Marathon Martinez biofuel refinery, and offering hollow assurances that public safety is of utmost concern, and thus, in the eyes of the County, no extension of the public comment period to wait crucial information regarding the recent refinery accident was necessary.

Despite the lack of time, and the rushed nature of the public comment period, Biofuelwatch did offer comment on the Draft REIR of the Phillips 66 project before the December 8, 2023 deadline, as did many other community stakeholders and independent experts.

The Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo has been getting lucrative incentives for making biofuels even though the environmental review of the project was found deficient by a judge.

Another dynamic that is indicative of the backwards governance of these refinery conversion issues is related to how the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is facilitating the awarding of lucrative Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) incentive credits for these biofuel refineries, even with their irregular CEQA reviews and ongoing litigation. One of the incongruent dynamics around the governance of the Phillips 66 biofuel refinery project is how CARB awarded Phillips 66 LCFS credits for making ‘renewable diesel’ in December 2021 — while the original environmental review was still in draft form.

Again, now in December 2023, despite the obvious problems with the environmental review of the biofuel refinery project, and in the context of the court order prohibiting the actual operation of the biofuel project until the CEQA process is legally complete, CARB is again preparing to lavishly award Phillips 66 lucrative LCFS credits for making ‘renewable diesel’ — this time with high deforestation risk soy oil sourced from Argentina and brought to the San Francisco Bay Area by tanker.

Local authorities have still done nothing to evaluate what the repercussions would be of a large scale industrial spill of vegetable oil or animal tallow in the Bay. Nor have state authorities taken seriously the abundant evidence exposing the climate damage arising from crop-based biofuels. Biofuelwatch did provide comment to CARB opposing the approval of the current Phillips 66 application for LCFS credits from making liquid biofuels from soy imported from Argentina.

As the governance irregularities continue to pile up around the conversion of SF Bay Area refineries to making liquid biofuels Biofuelwatch will continue to work with partners to highlight the red flags that should at the very least put the brakes on these problematic energy projects receiving incentives from California markets-based climate policy mechanisms like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

Whether it be court orders, refinery fires or evidence about soy-based biofuels as a driver of global deforestation, the red flags about the public risks and environmental threats of these biofuel refinery projects are increasingly easy to see — for those who have their eyes open to see them. Unfortunately, state and local authorities in California are trending towards a ‘heads-in-the-sand’ approach to the evidence about public safety concerns and environmental problems with the aggressive pivot to biofuels in the California refinery sector. Agency representatives and elected officials alike are dismissing informed community concerns about the refinery conversions and the resultant predictable threats to the local environment, public health and community safety — as well as ignoring the risks to global forests and the climate.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Become an MP Outreach Volunteer

Fri, 11/17/2023 - 04:47

Do you want to create political change and are you passionate about stopping the disastrous subsidy regime that is using UK energy bills to fund dirty tree-burning power stations like Drax in Yorkshire and Lynemouth in Northumberland? We are looking for a number of MP Outreach Volunteers who will work on our campaign team to get MPs to sign our Pledge to take a stand against all subsidies for burning wood in power stations. 

As an MP Outreach Volunteer you will have the chance to contact and meet with your MP to talk to them about how they can help to stop subsidies for tree burning in power stations and to transfer this funding to genuine climate solutions like home insulation and actual renewables such as wind and solar power. Through building a relationship and influencing your MP to sign the pledge, you will play a key role in helping to protect forests, wildlife, communities and the climate. 

You will be supported by Biofuelwatch UK campaigners with a range of resources including campaign resources, recordings of online training and a welcome call at 6.30pm on the 7th of December where you can ask any further questions, to register for this please sign up here.

If you are interested, you can find out more through this resource pack here and complete the google form which can be found through this link here

Register for our welcome call MP Outreach resource pack If you are interested complete this google form

Please feel free to email us at biofuelwatch@gmail.com with the subject ‘Become an MP Outreach Volunteer’  if you have any questions about the role or if you would like further information. 

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

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