European utility companies are driving the destruction of Southern forests in the name of ‘renewable’ energy and are even being subsidized for their trouble…for now anyway.
The European Union has enacted a goal to derive 20% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020 and to phase out reliance on fossil fuels such as coal. We applaud this goal and wish that our own government would emulate it. Unfortunately, due to a false assumption driven by industry that burning trees is good for the atmosphere, European coal-fired power plants have been retooled to burn wood pellets (imported from the Southern US) instead of shutting down.
This skyrocketing demand for wood pellets was enough to drive exports from the Southern US up 70% in 2012 to 1.7 million tons leading our region to surpass Canada as the largest exporter of wood pellets in the world. Projections are that exports of wood pellets will jump to 5.7 million tons by 2016. This number comes as a serious point of concern when you factor in that our forests are already overtaxed by current lumber and paper production.
Over the years, Dogwood’s campaigns have been very successful at putting pressure on corporations and getting previously unthinkable results. But we knew that even with partners like NRDC and the support of over 70 organizations, we were going to need partners in Europe to take on European utility companies like DRAX and their US suppliers like Enviva. So, last year we reached out across the Atlantic to the source of the escalating pressure on Southern forests as fuel and formed an international coalition with allies in Europe. Our Forests Aren’t Fuel campaign now has eyes and ears in Europe with the power to influence policy and stop the destruction of Southern forests for fuel.
Check out these amazing organizations partnering with us on the Our Forests Aren’t Fuel campaign:
The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. RSPB is the largest wildlife conservation organization in Europe with over one million members. Wildlife and the environment face many threats. RSPB’s work is focused on the species and habitats that are in the greatest danger.
The EEB stands for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy to ensure the EU secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all. The EEB is now Europe’s largest federation of environmental organizations.
By focusing on birds, and the sites and habitats on which they depend, the BirdLife Partnership is working to improve the quality of life for birds, for other wildlife (biodiversity), and for people.
In addition, we also coordinate with Biofuel Watch, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who play a critical role in holding European utilities accountable for sustainability standards and shaping government policy.
We’re not the only ones that recognize that European organizations will play a very important role in ensuring the protection of our Southern forests. Following on the coattails of Dogwood is Enviva, the South’s largest manufacturer and exporter of wood pellets to Europe. Enviva has not only been actively lobbying the EU government, but has also been reaching out to many of our European allies despite refusing to meet with Dogwood and NRDC. They have taken a similar route here in the US, meeting with and trying to sway our allies along the North Carolina and Virginia Coast. However, Enviva has been met with a unified voice from Europe: “If you want to engage with one of us then you will have to talk to all of us!”