Over 100 scientists from around the world sent a letter to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, urging him to protect North Carolina forests and address the threats of the industrial-scale wood pellet industry. The scientists, who study climate change, forests, wetlands, ecology and energy, called on Governor Cooper to ensure that scientific facts about forests and climate are at the forefront of policy decisions, specifically when it comes to the unchecked growth of the wood pellet industry. Key points from the letter:
Forests are our most important tool to mitigate climate change.
Forests soak up carbon from the atmosphere, but deforestation and degradation also account for a significant amount of global greenhouse gas emissions. Forest conservation and restoration play a central role in the Paris Climate Accord, and Governor Cooper has pledged to uphold the goals of the climate agreement. Protecting and restoring NC forests is critical to meeting emissions reduction goals at home.
Healthy, natural forests are vital for climate change adaptation and disaster readiness.
As we continue to face hurricanes that bring tragedy and tremendous cost to the US and our neighbors, it is more urgent than ever that we invest in standing forests to prepare for increasingly frequent and extreme weather. Natural forests increase the resiliency of low-lying and flood-prone areas.
The wood pellet industry is one of the most urgent threats to the people and forests of North Carolina.
Tens of thousands of acres of North Carolina forests are cut down each year to meet the demands of Enviva’s wood pellet facilities. The industry is propped up by heavy subsidies in Europe, which are driven by misguided energy policies. While biomass is painted as a “green energy” solution, burning trees for electricity, in fact, releases more carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity than burning coal does. Burning trees for electricity also releases harmful particulate matter and smog precursors, which disproportionately impact already vulnerable populations.
Governor Cooper needs to follow the science on forests and climate.
The bottom line is that we shouldn’t be cutting down our best defense against climate change and calling it a climate solution. We cannot afford to wait: to stave off the worst effects of climate change, it is imperative that we reduce emissions and increase our forest carbon sinks now. Already, Governor Cooper has demonstrated his climate leadership by committing to the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. Now, he must take prompt action to protect Southern forests and stop the unchecked growth of the wood pellet industry.