Statement: One Step Closer to the End of Biomass Subsidies in the Netherlands

Campaigners and community leaders in the Netherlands have had their hard work pay off again. The Dutch government recently adopted a formal policy to rule out new subsidies for biomass heat plants.

  • This should mean the end of the construction and build-out of the power plants that are for heat or combined heat and power.
  • The Southern United States is one of the primary regions that the Netherlands imports wood pellets from.
  • So this announcement will reduce pressure on the forests and communities of our region.

Last year, the Dutch Parliament halted new subsidies until they were to complete a biomass phaseout plan. This new policy replaces that temporary measure with a permanent moratorium.

Minister Jetten said:

 “…the government is aware of social concerns regarding biomass-based raw materials. That’s why we have decided to immediately halt subsidization of wood-based commodities.”

This is a clear victory. The Dutch people have spoken out against burning our forests for fuel.

Dogwood Alliance has supported the on-the-ground efforts for years. An international coalition standing for forests, climate, and communities has raised its voice. Minister Jetten highlighted that our movement is being listened to.

Imports of wood from the Southern US and the Baltic states have stoked growing opposition to biomass in the country.

  • In a De Telegraaf survey run, 98% of Dutch respondents opposed biomass subsidization.
  • An independent adviser to the Dutch Government recommended stopping biomass for power generation in 2020.
  • Even before the end of the recent subsidies declaration, the industry took notice. Vattenfall froze its investment decision for its biomass facility in Diemen.

This summer, the Dutch Parliament will debate a biomass phaseout plan.

Could this recent decision tell us what’s yet to come?

Biomass is the largest source of energy subsidized and categorized as renewable energy in the Netherlands. This is similar to other European Union countries. In 2020, biomass was over half (54%) of the “renewable” power consumed and about half of that was from burning wood for heating.

In the Southern United States, this has had extreme consequences for our forests.

  • Dutch demand has consumed 3,200,000 tonnes of wood pellets over the past decade.
  • It has required 31,080 hectares of clearcut forest in the biodiversity hotspot of the North American Coast Plain. That’s an area close to the size of 1.5 Amsterdams.
  • Despite industry’s claims of a “sustainable supply,” our natural forests are disappearing.

The Netherlands’ demand for wood pellets places pressure on forests in the Southern US and the Baltic States.

We look to a strong phaseout from the Netherlands. The Netherlands phaseout plan could send a signal for all countries in the EU that burn biomass. There’s no better time to stand for forests than now. It’s time to phase out biomass completely.

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