Burning forests for energy is not ‘renewable’ – now the EU has to admit it | Greta Thunberg and others

nOutside of the week the future of many of the world’s forests will be decided when MEPs vote on the EU’s renewable energy directive. If Parliament fails to change the EU malicious and credible Renewable energy policy, tax money for European citizens will continue to pay for forests around the world turning into smoke every day.

Now Europe’s directly elected representatives have a choice: either they save the EU’s “climate goals” through their legislative loopholes or they can start saving our climate, because at the moment, that’s not what the EU goals are working for.

Wood pellets and other wood fuels are being increased in size Imported from outside the European Union To satiate Europe’s growing appetite for burning forests for energy. This is a list appetizer EU Renewable Energy Directive incentives. It does this by classifying forest biomass on paper as carbon-neutral emissions when in reality, burning forest biomass will produce higher emissions of fossil fuels over the next critical decades.

The interconnected crises of wars and rising food and energy prices underscore the urgency of policies that enable energy savings and energy efficiency, and the importance of decarbonizing the EU energy sector. It should be clear that decarbonization can only be done using non-carbon energy sources. It is crucial to phase out fossil fuels, but the energy sources we are replacing with them are just as important.

The EU Renewable Energy Directive should only apply to actual forms of renewable energy – and forests are not renewable. Forests are ecosystems created by nature that cannot be replanted. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we need to Restore and maintain More forest ecosystems – but as internationally renowned scientists to cautionthe European Union directive on renewable energy spurs a daily loss of irreplaceable forest ecosystem In favor of harmful replanting of new trees.

There is not enough time for these tree plantations to grow To be in line with the Paris Agreement. Forest biomass takes minutes to burn, while it takes decades to centuries for climate and environmentally harmful tree farms for resequester emitted carbon. This equals decades of carbon debt We don’t have time for.

The same goes for burning what the industry calls forest residues, such as treetops and branches. Burning any part of the tree means burning carbon. When forest residues come from an 80-year-old tree, it will take 80 years for a similar tree to grow – and that’s time we don’t have.

For forest residues to become sustainable end products, forests must be sustainable in the first place; But this is not the case today. Most people would assume a few things about our forests based on what they were told: First, Europe has a fair amount of protected forests – and even if it’s not as the European Union promised, at least protection rates are moving in the right direction. Another common misconception is that forests are done sustainably, that mostly climate-friendly wood products are produced, and that only forest remains are burned for energy.

In fact, none of this applies to the European Union today. Strictly Protected Forest It is recorded dailyAnd the Half of what is recorded in the forests of the European Union, Not just residue, it is burned as fuel. certified and Supposed to be “sustainable” forests the reasons emission increaseDaily biodiversity loss and systematic violation Indigenous peoples’ rights in the arctic regions of Europe.

Wood storage at a biomass power plant in Viehhausen, Germany.
Wood storage at a biomass power plant in Viehhausen, Germany. Photo: Lucas Barth/Reuters

Policy-driven conversion of forests into environmentally harmful tree plantations threatens the way of life of indigenous Sami communities. Their reindeer have survived the harsh Arctic climate for a time immemorial, but after only 60 years of so-called sustainable forests, 71% of lichen-rich forests Crucial to the survival of the reindeer has already disappeared in Sweden. Sami communities are sounding the alarm: they’re telling us “The reindeer are starving”.

Forests degraded by logging are also more flammable, and in the midst of an accelerating climate crisis, this is a major risk. This was clearly demonstrated by Fires out of control That erupted across Europe in the recent extreme heat, triggering a widespread release of carbon, exacerbating the climate breakdown.

We need to drastically reduce all kinds of greenhouse gas emissions, not just those from fossil fuels. In addition, not instead, we must remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Instead of trusting it’s not there, it’s unreliable, and it’s expensive Carbon Capture TechnologiesThe best way to do that is to protect and restore more forests. If we constantly record forests, there will always be more carbon in the atmosphere than if the forest were remained unregistered. Because of catalytic logging, the EU is already starting to see its carbon banks collapse Countries like Finland and Estonia.

It is clear that we need to move towards ecosystem-based forests and move away from the current forest model, which means mitigation, deforestation, and planting of artificial tree stands.

Such a shift would equal more sustainable rural jobs and lead to more Climate Resistant Forests, both of which are vital to a just transition. On this note, all subsidies for forest biomass burning should be reallocated to true renewable energy sources such as offshore wind, solar and geothermal energy.

However, as is now the case, the directive of renewable energy is creating a negative downward spiral. However, we can change that. MEPs have a precious window of opportunity and duty. They have until 1 p.m. Wednesday for an amended schedule to remove forest biomass from renewable energy directives. They can vote on this change until September 13th. They have 48 hours to do the right thing. If they fail, they will lock in decades of rising carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, and human rights abuses.

  • Greta Thunberg Friday for Future Sweden co-authored this article with Lina Bernelius From Sweden Forest Protection; Somer Ackerman Postcombustion Europe; Sophia JanukSami artist and environmental activist; Ida Korhonen from Luonto-Liitto, Finland; Jean Hervasphobioa Sami and environmental activist; Jan Cygetssupreme activist Veena Swart from Comite Schone Lucht, The Netherlands; And the Anne-Sophie Sadolin Henningsen From Forests of the World, Denmark

  • Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 300 words for consideration for publication, email it to us at guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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