Dutch Biomass Agreement Aims High But Misses the Mark

After 2 years of negotiations, Dutch NGO’s and Utility Companies agreed on a biomass policy for wood pellets currently burned for electricity. We in the Southern states know all too well that the drastic increase and scale of demand for wood pellets, driven by countries such as the Netherlands, have had devastating effects on forests and communities. Biomass policies from European countries must be more aggressive with timelines for adequate sustainability standards; our forests depend on it.

Editorial Cartoon: Migratory Route of the Southern Wood Pellet

Flawed European policies meant to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change have large utilities rapidly shifting from coal to wood at the expense of wildlife habitat and the impacts are being deeply felt by vital bird populations. Loss of mature hardwood forests is having a significant impact on bird populations that depend on these forests for breeding and survival. Many species hurt by this growing industry are already the focus of conservation initiatives to protect their declining numbers.

Forests Should Be Front and Center in Lima #COP20, Part II

So, how is it that utility companies in Europe can get away with claiming offsets without having to verify and validate those claims? Why are they not held to the same globally-recognized set of standards as everyone else? Why do they get to take credit today for an offset that is not likely to accrue for decades into the future, if it even happens at all? Where is the legally-binding agreement to keep the carbon stored in the forest for 100+ years? And, perhaps most disturbing of all, how are the utility companies taking credit for (and reaping the value of) the carbon stored in someone else’s forests without paying the forest owners? This double standard is beyond troublesome.

Forests Should Be Front and Center in Lima #COP20

The longer forests are allowed to grow, the greater the climate benefit. This basic biological fact has given rise to a number of international programs and policies designed to encourage the protection of forests as carbon sinks. In fact, the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, of which many European nations are signatories, has developed a variety of tools and policy frameworks to encourage greater forest conservation.