Utility companies in the United States and Europe are expanding their use of wood as an energy source despite growing scientific evidence that the large-scale burning of wood for electricity—in particular the burning of whole trees—will accelerate industrial logging, increase carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels, and threaten human health with air pollution similar to burning coal. While the small-scale use of wood waste and residues for energy could play a role in addressing future energy needs, policies in the U.S. and European Union are setting the stage for the large-scale use of wood as a primary fuel source. At a time when we need more forests to capture carbon, burning forests for energy will destroy one of our best defenses against climate change. A major shift to wood as an energy source could likewise undermine efforts to expand clean, renewable and low-carbon energy sources, such as solar and wind, while also rolling back hard-won victories for forest conservation.
In recent decades, demand for forest products has resulted in intensive industrial logging with unregulated large-scale clearcutting, conversion of natural forests to plantations, and routine use of toxic herbicides and fertilizers. This has been a major driver of habitat and species loss, as well as the degradation of water resources and carbon sinks. Growing awareness of these trends has increased the number of major wood producers and wood product buyers who have adopted meaningful, voluntary commitments to stop the continued conversion of natural forests to plantations, protect endangered forests, and improve forest management practices. Rising demand for wood-generated electricity is proceeding without analogous policies to address carbon emissions, air pollution, ecological impacts and sustainable wood sourcing practices.
We, the undersigned groups, are united in our call for an immediate moratorium on the use of whole trees in pellet manufacturing facilities and utility-scale biomass projects, including co-firing in existing power plants, until adequate policies are in place to verify that such projects:
- Will reduce near-term carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels;
- Will not adversely impact forests, carbon sinks, soil, wildlife habitat, biodiversity and water resources; and
- Will not result in net increases to local air pollution.
It will take strong leadership and collaboration between the utility industry and civil society to solve the climate crisis. Utility companies must do their part to address climate change by investing in energy conservation, efficiency, and truly renewable and low-carbon energy sources, such as solar and wind. Utility-scale biomass energy, as it is being promoted today in the US and EU is not a viable solution.
Friends of the Siberian Forests
Center for Environmental Research and Education in Saxapahaw
RESTORE – Restore Explicit Symmetry to Our Ravaged Earth
STUDENT GROUP sign-ons
Environmental Club – University of North Georgia
Endorsers of this platform endorse the concerns, broad principles and call to action as contained herein. Endorsement of this platform does not reflect endorsement of campaign tactics that may be carried out by any of the signatory organizations or any more detailed policy directives related to the call to action being advocated by any signatory organizations.
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