International NGO’s Call for Immediate End to Biomass Subsidies

Four international environmental NGOs have today written to Dutch MPs ahead of the parliamentary Roundtable on Biomass on 15th June, calling for biomass subsidies to be revoked. [1] The interntional organisations’ call is aligned with that of Comité Schone Lucht.

The NGOs, Biofuelwatch, Dogwood Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council (USA) and Save Estonia’s Forests [2], call for an immediate end to biomass subsidies, instead of allowing RWE, Uniper and Onyx to continue profiting from several more years of public subsidies for co-firing wood pellets with coal, despite the serious harm this causes to the climate, to forests and the wildlife dependent on them.

In the letter, the groups propose a pathway for lawfully ending the subsidies early. They present detailed evidence that the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), which certifies all or most wood pellets burned in Dutch coal power stations, fails to ensure that pellets comply with the minimum standards set out in Dutch legislation. Removing accreditation for the SBP as a permitted certifier of pellets burned in the Netherlands would, the groups believe, open the way for removing subsidies: without SBP accreditation, coal plant operators would no longer be able to claim that the pellets they are sourcing from the southeastern USA or Estonia are produced in a way that protects biodiverse, carbon stores and the ecological integrity of forests and peatlands.

Adam Colette, Program Director of Dogwood Alliance in the southern USA – the main pellet sourcing region for the Netherlands, states: “Enviva, which provides a large share of the pellets burned in Dutch coal plants, routinely sources wood from clearcut, biodiverse coastal hardwood forests, with little regard for communities, for wildlife, or for the climate. It is well past time that Dutch policymakers stop the charade of pretending that those practices in any way comply with Dutch sustainability standards.”

Almuth Ernsting, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch, adds: “Cutting down forests and burning them for energy is never low-carbon and should not be classified as renewable – regardless of how sustainable or otherwise the forests from which wood is sourced are managed. However, the fact that many or most of the pellets do not even comply with the insufficient Dutch standards presents policymakers with a real opportunity to end those subsidies and help protect forests and climate.”

Liina Steinberg, Coordinator of Save Estonia’s Forests, states: “This weeks Biomass Roundtable must not become yet another talking shop while our precious forests are being destroyed to help other countries, including the Netherlands, meet their renewable energy targets. It must result in action, action that stops subsidies for such a destructive form of energy.”

Fenna Swart, chair of the Dutch Comité Schone Lucht: “This joint demand with the foreign NGOs must now finally be heard by the Dutch MPs and lead to real action. Current subsidies for burning other countries’ forests in Dutch coal-fired power plants must be stopped now.”

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