International campaign groups visit Denmark to sound alarm against biomass as a climate solution

International Environmental nGOs Visit Denmark to Sound the Alarm Against Danish Biomass as a Climate Solution

Groups Highlight the Vital Role Forests Play in Mitigating Climate Change and Urge
End to Taxpayer Subsidies in Biomass and a Comprehensive Shift to Wind, Solar,
Geothermal Power and Electrification

24th May 2017, Copenhagen – Over the last three days, a delegation of Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations from the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom have met with Danish companies, agencies, Members of Parliament, and civil society organizations to urge the country to stop investing in biomass electricity. The groups hold that Danish biomass use and investments are contributing to forest destruction around the globe, diverts taxpayer and government money from true renewable energy, and are a false solution to climate change.

Dogwood Alliance from the United States, Markets for Change from Australia, and Biofuelwatch from the UK visited Denmark on the invitation of and hosted by NOAH (Friends of the Earth – Denmark). The groups came because the country is growing into one of the world’s leading importers of wood pellets to burn for electricity, as well as an investor in biomass plants abroad.

The UK is currently the largest importer of wood pellets, Australia is poised to fuel electricity at home and internationally from precious natural forests, and the US is the world’s leading exporter of wood pellets causing damaging environmental impacts to wetland forests, rural communities and the climate.

In our minds, Denmark is one of the world’s leading voices on addressing climate change, and so we were upset to learn that this country is heavily investing in biomass electricity,” said Adam Macon, Campaign Director at Dogwood Alliance. “As demand from Denmark grows, we will see continued logging of wetland forests in the Southern US, damaging impacts to local communities, and increasing carbon emissions, when we should instead be investing in standing forests.

One of the primary reasons for the delegation’s trip to Denmark was to meet with PKA, the Danish Pension Fund. PKA recently bought a 50% share in what is slated to be the world’s largest dedicated biomass utility that is planned to open in 2019, the Tees Renewable Energy Plant in Teesside, England. The other 50% is being funded by Macquerie Bank of Australia, a notorious investor in dirty energy. The facility will rely heavily on wood pellet imports from the Southern United States, most specifically Enviva’s proposed wood pellet mill in Richmond County, North Carolina, where the local community has already been inundated by coal ash, poultry farms, a natural gas pipeline as well as other environmental injustices.

MGT-Teesside is an environmental tragedy in the making and will further solidify the UK as the
world’s leading forest destroyer and climate crook,” said Almuth Ernsting, Director of Biofuelwatch. “PKA should not be investing in dirty energy, forest destruction, and climate denial, and should instead focus on stimulating true renewable energy like wind and solar, and electrification.”

The delegation met with national and local civil society organizations to discuss the impacts of bioenergy on the climate and the world’s forests. The held a parliamentary briefing hosted by the Red-Green Alliance that was attended by many of the leading biomass proponents in Denmark like DONG, HOFOR, the Danish Energy Association, and the Danish Forest Association, as well as a meeting with the Danish Energy Agency. 

Markets for Change advocates for an end to burning forests for electricity and instead embracing solutions that solve the climate crisis, not make it worse,” said Peg Putt, CEO of Markets for Change. “In traveling to Denmark, we were skeptical that Danish society could divest from biomass because there has been very little dialogue, but after some positive engagement here, we leave hopeful that there is still an opportunity to stop this climate disaster.”

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