Greenpeace - Toxic Factories As Renewable Energy
GREENPEACE URGES EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT NOT TO PROMOTE TOXIC FACTORIES AS RENEWABLE ENERGY
Brussels - 14 November 2000 - Greenpeace today expressed outrage that public support intended for the development of clean, renewable energy may be used to promote the building of yet more cancer causing municipal waste incinerators.
Despite growing public concern over the health and environmental problems associated with waste incinerators, tomorrow the European Parliament will consider introducing municipal waste incineration into the European Renewable Energy Directive, under the guise of organic waste (1). This would not only result in greenwashing of a highly polluting activity, but would actually allow Member States to achieve lower targets for energy production from true renewable sources.
“If this goes ahead, it would totally undermine the development of genuinely clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power,” said Greenpeace Toxics coordinator Juantxo Lopez de Uralde.
It is not economically feasible to maintain a waste incinerator by burning household organic wastes alone as their energy content is low. Organic waste is, therefore, mixed with plastics and other types of waste, which form dioxins and other hazardous substances when burned.
“If incineration of organic household waste is promoted as a source of renewable energy, it will directly support the incineration of all municipal waste and fundamentally contradict attempts to promote true renewable energy sources in Europe. Municipal waste incinerators need to be phased out, not promoted by public institutions,” added Lopez de Uralde.
Greenpeace is calling on the European Parliament and European governments to adopt a directive with minimum legally binding targets which exclude municipal waste incineration from the list of renewable energy sources. The organic fraction of municipal solid waste needs to be collected separately from other waste and recycled or treated through composting.
Incineration of municipal waste is Europe’s single largest source of dioxins, one of the world’s most dangerous chemicals and known to cause cancer in humans. A global ban on dioxins is currently being discussed by the world’s governments (2).
For interviews contact: Juantxo Lopez de Uralde, Greenpeace International Toxics coordinator on + 34 609 468 954 Michel Raquet, Greenpeace European Unit on + 32 496 163365 Lorenzo Consoli, Greenpeace European Unit media officer on + 32 75 95 54 65 Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International media officer on + 31 20 524 9545
For further information on the health and
environmental risks associated with incineration
Notes to the editor: The first reading of the proposed European Renewable Energy Directive will take place during this week’s European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasburg, on Wednesdy and Thursday 15 and 16 November 2000. Amendments that would favour public support for municipal waste incineration as a source of renewable energy have been introduced by Giles Bryan Chichester, UK MEP, on behalf of the Conservative Group.
The proposed wording 'waste which makes a neutral or positive contribution to the reduction of overall green house emissions' would deliberately include the incineration of the organic fraction of municipal waste. One amendment would include incineration of such waste into the definition of renewables - which would make municipal waste incineration eligible for subsidies. As a fall-back, Mr Chichester suggests that organic municipal waste incineration should be considered as a renewable energy source for achieiving the established objectives. Given that, under the directive, every Member State would have to achieve a certain percentage of energy production from renewable sources by 2010, such a move would lower these targets.
Countries that support this include mainly Italy, the UK and the Netherlands.
The next International Negotiating Committee meeting to discuss the first global ban on persistent organic pollutants, which prioritises dioxins as one of the chemicals in need of urgent action, will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa 4 – 9 December 2000.
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