Biomass campaigners flag normalization of burning forests for energy during COP27 Biodiversity Day
November 16, 2022
Sharm El-Sheikh, EGYPT— On the heels of Biodiversity Day at COP 27 today, the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) recently earmarked new funds that could inadvertently risk creating a policy roadmap to burn the world’s forests for energy.
Yesterday at COP27, the PPCA celebrated their five year anniversary by announcing new growth, new membership and new money from the World Bank to fund renewable energy solutions in the transition off of global coal. Last year at COP 26 in Glasgow, scientists, policy experts and advocates sounded the alarm that replacing coal with burning forest biomass is increasing carbon emissions and destroying forest ecosystems. One year later in Sharm El-Sheikh, biomass continues to be propped up as a false climate solution not only in Canada and the United Kingdom (co-chairs of the PPCA), but to the detriment of poor and racialized communities in countries across the world. Drax, a massive utility in the UK, is one of the main biomass industry culprits.
“While solutions for accelerating the ongoing energy transition are welcome, deliberately flawed emissions accounting are having devastating impacts on forests and the climate while putting poor communities in harm’s way,” said Maya Menezes, Senior Climate Justice Campaigner, Stand.earth. “The PPCA is being co-chaired by UK Energy Minister Graham Stuart, a Drax sympathizer. In the southern US, black communities are dying from pollution caused by Drax. A Stand.earth investigation also found that Drax is logging whole, healthy and primary and natural forests in so-called BC. Any transition of a coal plant to biomass is not part of the solution.”
Burning biomass emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy generated than burning fossil fuels, and logging forests for fuel is degrading the forest carbon sink in Europe and in other regions that supply wood pellets, most notably the U.S. southeast, British Columbia and a range of other provinces in Canada.
The use of wood pellets for “renewable” energy production has grown due the provision of massive subsidies by governments. In the UK, the subsidies top a billion pounds yearly, while provincial and federal subsidies in Canada help keep the forest biomass industry propped up with taxpayer dollars, instead of funding critical green energy that we will need to weather the climate crisis.
“As we wrap up Biodiversity Day at COP27, it’s important that the PPCA recognizes that it has an opportunity to build transition plans that are truly representative of carbon emissions reductions instead of hiding behind a well-known accounting error, and preemptively celebrating wins that still put people and the planet in danger,” said Maya Menezes, Senior Climate Justice Campaigner, Stand.earth. “If the PPCA truly wants to be at the forefront of climate leadership, it must not make room for false solutions that are costing lives.”
Media contacts (in Sharm El-Sheikh):
Maya Menezes, Senior Climate Justice Campaigner for Stand.earth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Solaye Snider, Senior Digital Campaigner, email@example.com