“Danish Climate Agreement Puts our Forests at Risk,” say environmental groups from USA and Estonia

-For immediate release-

Asheville, NC, September 1st, 2020 – Today, environmental campaigners from the USA and Estonia delivered a letter to Minister Jørgensen [1], warning that the new Danish Climate Agreement fails to protect their countries’ forests and perpetuates Denmark’s contribution to climate change by allowing large-scale biomass burning to continue unabated.

The groups call on the Danish government to phase out the use of biomass for district heating and incentivize low-carbon clean alternatives, such as heat pumps. They warn that binding sustainability standards, which are to be developed under the Climate Agreement are unlikely to do anything to protect forests and climate. A recent in-depth NGO investigation found no evidence that sustainability standards for biomass anywhere in the world have had any meaningful impact on companies’ wood sourcing, especially where imports are concerned [2]. Moreover, as highlighted in a previous Open Letter by 800 scientists, sustainable forest management makes no difference to the amount of carbon emitted from burning wood for energy [3].

Pellets exported from the Southeastern USA to Denmark regularly include wood from clearcutting of wildlife-rich natural forests. Rita Frost from Dogwood Alliance explains:

“The Southern USA has lost 30 million acres of wildlife-rich forest ecosystems over the pasts six decades. Now the growing demand for wood pellets has become yet another driver for clearcutting what remains of our forests, often replacing them with sterile monocultures. If we are to save those forests, Denmark must help by rapidly phasing out biomass burning in its heat and power plants.”

In Estonia and other Baltic States logging rates have accelerated in recent years, with ever larger areas of mature forests being clearcut due to the growing demand for biomass energy. According to a recent study in the prestigious science journal Nature [3], this is part of a trend seen across much of Europe in response to the growing demand for biomass energy.

Siim Kuresoo from Estonian Fund for Nature states:

“Sustainability standards such as those considered by the Danish government cannot protect our forests from increased logging to meet the growing demand for wood pellets in Europe. Denmark, as the number one importer of wood pellets from our region needs to act quickly to reduce this unsustainable demand, instead of allowing it to increase further.”

Rita Frost, Dogwood Alliance: Tel +1 512 423 0620 (USA), [email protected]
Siim Kuresoo, Estonian Fund for Nature: Tel: +372 7 428 443 (Estonia), [email protected]
[1] dogwoodalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Danish-climate-law-letter-Summer-2020.pdf
[2] biofuelwatch.org.uk/2020/sustainability-standards-briefing/
[3] pfpi.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/UPDATE-800-signatures_Scientist-Letter-on-EU-Forest-Biomass.pdf
[3] nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2438-y

For historical context, please see these letters and posts:
September 2017: Danish Pension Fund’s Green Credentials Questioned
October 2019: Track & Trace? More like “Trick or Trace.” Why sustainability certification schemes fall flat in protecting forests & climate
October 2019: Groups call for Denmark to Protect Forests & Climate

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