A Costly Mistake: New NRDC report shows how much Europe funds destruction of Southern forests for biomass
Many will say fighting climate change is expensive. Calculating the cost of inaction, though, makes it obvious that the investment in climate mitigation (reducing our greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (making our communities more resilient to climate impacts like flooding) is worth it. But funding false solutions? Here’s where we can all agree: we don’t have the time nor the money to waste on so-called solutions that don’t work.
Biomass, burning trees for electricity, is the number one culprit when it comes to false solutions.
Led by countries in the European Union, governments around the world are turning towards replacing coal with biomass energy as a categorized renewable energy source. This move flies in the face of research, which has shown time and time again that burning biomass from forests for energy is dirty and destructive. Burning forest biomass has shown itself to be a significant contributor to (not a solution to) climate change because it releases large amounts of greenhouse gases, removes crucial forest ecosystems that provide habitat and are carbon-capturers, and harms communities where the facilities are located.
Not only is biomass bad for the forests, communities, and climate, but it’s expensive. It’s one of the most cost ineffective resources out there.
This week, a critical new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council detailed how 15 EU member states are wasting billions of euros on dirty bioenergy subsidies each year. Burnout: EU Clean Energy Policies Lead to Forest Destruction shows that $7 billion euros are paid out every year to utilities and end users of biomass. Enviva, the world’s largest supplier of biomass, reaps these benefits when they sell to European utilities. Renewable energy subsidies should help address the climate emergency, not make it worse.
Even more, scientists are urgently calling for the world to protect forests, not destroy them. Renewable energy subsidies should be going towards truly clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar, while we also invest in climate solutions like keeping forests standing. One of the most important places for that to happen is in forests in the Southern US.
The new NRDC report shows how much Europe funds destruction of Southern forests for biomass. We don’t have the time nor the money to be swindled by biomass as an energy source any longer. Enviva has plans for a massive scale-up of their wood pellet production in the Southern US. This is bad for our forests, climate, and communities.