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Over 170 Groups Worldwide Stand Up Against Forest Biomass, A False Climate Solution

Activists Call on UN Climate Conference to Fix Flawed GHG Accounting Rules

Sydney, Tokyo, Delhi, Johannesburg, Brussels, Washington and more: 21st October 2021 - Leading into COP 26, over 170 non-government organisations worldwide have been taking action today - the International Day of Action on Big Biomass - to highlight the impacts of biomass energy, a false solution to climate change that actually emits as much or more CO2 as burning coal. A colourful wave of activities, organized by the Biomass Working Group of the Environmental Paper Network (EPN), has moved around the world – starting in Australia and traveling via Asia to Africa and Europe, then to the Americas.

Activities were organised in Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi, Lome, Accra, Johannesburg, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Tallin, Brussels, London, Glasgow, Victoria, Wilmington, Asheville, Washington DC, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, and more.

170 NGOs from 40 countries are signatories to the EPN Biomass Delusion position statement on large scale forest biomass, which severely threatens the climate, biodiversity and vulnerable communities.

Peg Putt (1), Coordinator of Policy and Campaigns for the Forests, Climate and Biomass Energy working group said: “Widespread concern about this fake “renewable” should be heeded by the UN climate conference, which can and should fix the root cause of the problem – the notoriously flawed accounting rules that enable a false impression of carbon neutrality to be perpetrated. On the basis of this false claim, many countries have boosted burning forests for energy at a time when we should protect them to keep carbon out of the atmosphere and biodiversity safe.

“Inflicting damage on natural forests, accelerating land grabbing and massive monoculture plantation expansion, dumping pollution on disadvantaged communities, all whilst accelerating climate change are all being called out in the wave of action on big biomass.”

Soojin Kim (2), senior researcher and bioenergy program lead at Seoul-based NGO Solutions for Our Climate, said: "Korea's expanding use of biomass-produced electricity—which has grown sixtyfold since 2012—is endangering biodiversity and worsening the climate crisis. There have been calls to replace imported wood pellets with domestic biomass, but that would only further destroy forests at home and put rural communities at risk of catastrophic landslides. The Korean government must stop subsidizing large-scale biomass power altogether, and introduce criteria for sustainable sourcing based on lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and aligned with international standards."

Kwami Kpondzo (3), campaign officer at Friends of the Earth Togo said, "Bioenergy and industrial plantations are one of the biggest problems in Africa. It involves land grabbing, community displacement, and people's rights violations. Governments in Africa are in cahoots with the companies involved in the plantations and turn a blind eye to the communities who are suffering from environmental degradation, water and soil pollution. This must stop "

Heather Hillaker (4), attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in the USA said: “We are at a critical moment in the fight against climate change, and cutting our forests and burning them for power just doesn’t make sense. The biomass industry can emit more greenhouse gases than burning fossil fuels like coal, while also degrading forests and harming air quality in Southern communities. The US must follow the science and instead invest in proven clean-energy sources. This is why we’re calling on people to sign a petition urging the Biden Administration to steer clear of forest biomass as the US takes action on climate change.”

For more information about the International Day of Action on Big Biomass:

Visit the official webpage, which will include a live visual roundup of events happening on the day, as well as the programme of events: https://environmentalpaper.org/2021/09/idoa/

Follow us on Twitter: #BigBadBiomass

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Additional Quotes from organisations taking part in the IDoA around the globe

Souparna Lahiri, Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Regional Biomass Group, in New Delhi said, "Big bioenergy as renewable energy is potentially driving land grabs, monoculture plantations and deforestation in the Asia Pacific countries of Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, which may soon spread to the Pacific islands. The projected rise in consumption of bioenergy in Japan and Korea is another driver. Only a divestment of financial flows and investment from big bioenergy can save forests, land and communities in the Asia Pacific. ADB, therefore, being the biggest multilateral bank in the region, should divest from financing big bioenergy and usher in a climate appropriate Energy Policy."

Jana Ballenthien, forest consultant of ROBIN WOOD, Germany where large coal power plants are being converted to burn biomass, said: "Those who cut down forests today to burn them have not understood that our own lives, and those of future generations, are on the line. Forests are our closest allies in the fight against climate change and species extinction. Politicians must not fall for the myth of zero emissions and of burning wood residues that supposedly cannot be used in any other way. Old forests, home to a wealth of biodiversity, must be protected, not burned." 

Rita Frost, Campaigns Director, Dogwood Alliance, USA said: "The forests of the Southern United States are being destroyed to feed the global appetite for wood pellets. But, as we see on the ground in North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi, frontline communities are standing up to declare that this is anything but green energy and leaves behind harmful impacts to community, climate, and forests. Want to protect the climate and fight for justice? Stop burning forests for energy." 

Scott Sledge, President of the Northern Rivers Guardians in Australia said, ”We have come to a turning point in human history when we need to use new technologies other than burning things if we want a sustainable future.” 

Elly Pepper, from the Natural Resource Defense Council in the USA said, “The UK’s reliance on burning trees for energy has devastating environmental and public health impacts throughout the planet. Vulnerable communities in the U.S. breathe polluted air from wood pellet manufacturing mills. Forests in Estonia, Canada, and the U.S. are cut down in part to feed this industry, further imperiling threatened and endangered species. The UK must stop subsidising dirty biomass energy and invest in true renewables like wind and solar and forest protection.” 

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