Press Release: Irish biomass plans for peat power stations “pose serious threats to our forests” US environmental groups warn

Irish biomass plans for peat power stations “pose serious threats to our forests” US environmental groups warn

33 US civil society groups submit Open Letter to Irish Government demanding closure, not conversion of peat plants

Dublin, August 13, 2018 – An Open Letter by 33 conservation and environmental justice organisations in the USA has today been sent to the Irish government, ESB [2] and Bord na Móna [3], opposing large-scale biomass burning in Ireland’s three peat power stations as a serious threat to southern US forests.

The groups state that both peat and biomass burning are profoundly incompatible with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and that the Edenderry, West Offaly and Lough Ree plants must therefore be shut down as soon as possible.

The letter supports demands by environmental NGOs in Ireland that the peat plants should not be permitted to operate beyond 2020 and that the Irish Government and energy companies must instead increase support for genuinely low-carbon renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

Rita Frost from the forest-protection organization Dogwood Alliance, based in the southern United States: “ESB and Bord na Móna will do anything to keep their subsidies flowing for dirty, climate-polluting power stations. Their current proposal would replace peat with precious forests from the Southern US. The wood pellet industry in our region that would feed these companies is a key driver of forest destruction. Those forests lie at the heart of a global biodiversity hotspot and are vital for the future of the world’s climate,the region’s water supplies, and the local communities that depend on them.”

Bord na Móna has stated that it will burn US wood pellets ‘initially’. Its claims that it can eventually replace them with domestic willow and other biomass have been dismissed in the US Open Letter.

John Gibbons, climate change spokesperson from An Taisce says: “The Irish Government must listen to the warnings from US environmental groups. An Taisce has long called for the urgent phase out of high-carbon, dirty peat burning in Ireland. Burning either peat or imported wood pellets undermines Ireland’s climate change commitments while also destroying critical biodiversity. It must be ended.”

“It is cynical in the extreme for Bord Na Móna to plan to extend the life of its ecologically devastating peat burning business by contributing to similar destruction abroad”, Gibbons added. “As a semi-state company, it is under direct political control, so there is absolutely no reason Bord Na Móna cannot be directed by government to focus only on commercial activities that do not destroy biodiversity, increase flooding risk and further undermine Ireland’s climate targets.”

Rachel Smolker from Biofuelwatch, based in Vermont, adds: “If we want to have any hope of stabilising climate change at 1.5 or even 2 degrees C, we need to end fossil fuel and peat burning and we also need to protect the world’s remaining forests and allow ones which have been degraded or destroyed to regenerate. ESB’s and Bord na Móna’s plans for the three power plants will harm the climate both through direct carbon emissions and by accelerating the loss and degradation of forests.”

To download a pdf of the full letter, go here.

###

Contacts:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Rita Frost, Dogwood Alliance, 828-251-2525 ext 26
Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch, office: 802-482-2848, mobile: 802-735-7794
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: [email protected]

Note:
The Open Letter can be downloaded at https://media.dogwoodalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Open-letter-on-Ireland-Peat-Power-Stations-Aug-13-2018.pdf

This letter was sent to key government and corporate decision makers in Ireland. We sent the letter to the following contacts:
Tom Donellan, CEO Bord na Mona
Pat O’Doherty, CEO ESB
Denis Naughten, Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine
Hildegard Naughton, Chair of the Committee on Climate Action and the Committee on
Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Timmy Dooley, Fine Fail Spokesman on Communications, the Environment and Natural Resources
Brian Stanley, Sinn Fein Spokesman on Communications, Climate Change and Environment
Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party
Brid Smith, Solidarity-People Before Profit
James Lawless, Fine Fail
Terry Layden, Fine Fail (Senate)
Michael McDowell, Independent (Senate)
Joe O’Reilly, Fine Gael (Senate)
Mary Butler, Fine Fail, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Jack Chambers, Fine Fail, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Fine Gael, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Patrick Deering, Fine Gael, , Joint Committee on Climate Action
Martin Heydon, Fine Gael, Joint Committee on Climate Action
John Lahart, Fine Fail, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Imedla Munster, Sinn Fein, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Paul Murphy, Solidarity-People Before Profit, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Tom Neville, Fine Gael, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Carol Nolan, Independent, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Thomas Pringle, Independent, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Sean Sherlock, Labour, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Paul Daly, Fine Fail, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Maire Devine, Sinn Fein, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Tim Lombard, Fine Gael, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Ian Marshall, Independent, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Michelle Mulherin, Fine Gael, Joint Committee on Climate Action
Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party, Joint Committee on Climate Action

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