Joint Press Release: Danish Pension Fund’s green credentials questioned due to investments that promote burning forests to generate electricity

Biofuelwatch – Dogwood Alliance – NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark – Verdens Skove – Markets for Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 21 September, 2017

Danish Pension Fund’s green credentials questioned due to investments that promote burning forests to generate electricity

New briefing by leading NGOs places The Danish Pension Fund – PKA  in direct conflict with its stated commitment to responsible investment in the face of climate change.  

PKA has acquired 50% of shares in the UK company MGT Teesside, which is building the world’s largest purpose-built biomass power station at Teesport, UK. Yet, leading climate science and documented on-the-ground evidence have made it clear that the MGT Teesside biomass power station will be bad for the climate, forests, and local communities.

LONDON (September 21, 2017) — Despite priding itself for its socially and environmentally responsible investment, one of the Danish Pension Fund’s largest energy holdings is seriously undermining its green credibility. This has led to a strong call from an international coalition of NGO’s for PKA to divest from the destructive project.

In 2016, PKA acquired 50% of shares in the UK company MGT Teesside, which is building the world’s largest purpose-built biomass power station at Teesport. The plant will burn up to 1.5 million tonnes of wood pellets a year, which equates to about 3 million tonnes of green wood, also known as freshly harvested trees.

Approximately 1 million tonnes of the pellets will be supplied by Enviva, a US wood pellet producer known to source wood from clearcut coastal hardwood forests in the US south as well as siting their facilities directly alongside low-income and typically communities of color that are already suffering environmental impacts from a variety of polluting industries. In response, a coalition of NGOs from the US, UK, Denmark, and Australia released a new briefing outlining the negative impacts of PKA’s investment on the climate, forests, and local communities and demanding they divest.

The assumption that wood-based bioenergy is inherently carbon neutral continues to be discredited by a large and growing number of peer-reviewed studies and science reviews. This includes reports by the independent UK think-tank Chatham House, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), and the UK’s former Department of Energy and Climate Change. Increased logging of forests and their combustion for bioenergy releases large quantities of CO2, while significantly reducing carbon sequestration by these forests for decades, thus seriously undermining efforts to stabilise global temperatures.

Enviva, with whom MGT Teesside has signed a wood-pellet supply agreement, is based in the North Atlantic Coastal Plain region of the US South. This region was declared a global biodiversity hotspot in 2016 and contains some of the most biodiverse temperate forest and freshwater ecosystems in the world. Enviva’s own data shows that at least half of the wood it sources is obtained from native hardwood forests and years of on-the-ground documentation has clearly shown that Enviva sources from biodiverse wetland forests. When Enviva logs for wood pellets, there is no guarantee that these precious forests will ever grow back.

The Enviva wood-pellet manufacturing facility currently proposed in rural Richmond County, North Carolina and meant to supply the MGT Teesside power station is facing escalating local community resistance due to the negative health, quality of life, and long-term economic impacts. A large coalition of groups lead by the Concerned Citizens of Richmond County have called on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to revoke Enviva’s air-quality permit to build the facility by delivering over 10,000 petitions to the Governor’s office demanding action. Recently, over 50 health professionals from the US South wrote Governor Cooper demanding that the facility permit be revoked.

Organizations made the following statements:

“We’ve seen first-hand the destruction of our precious hardwood forests and witnessed serious impacts to the health of rural communities at the hands of wood pellet facilities,” said Adam Macon, Program Director at Dogwood Alliance. “If PKA is truly committed to addressing climate change through its investments, then they need to immediately state their intent to divest from the MGT Teesside Biomass facility.”

“All this damage to the forest ecosystem and then burning of the wood for electricity actually exacerbates climate change.” Peg Putt, Markets for Change

“ MGT Teesside is building a high-carbon polluting power station. It seeks to cash in on large renewable energy subsidies, which ought to be going to genuinely low-carbon wind and solar power.” Almuth Ernsting, BiofuelWatch

“A misleading label on bioenergy as a CO2-neutral form of renewable energy has now led to the devastating investment by a Danish pension fund in a British biomass power station. This is embarrassing.” Bente Hessellund Andersen, NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark

“Due to the sheer size of the proposed plant and the fact that PKA has failed to provide us with sufficient documentation regarding the supposedly “sustainable” sourcing of the woody biomass to be used, we are extremely worried that Teesside Biomass Facility will result in serious and irreplaceable loss of biodiversity” Andreas Petersen, Verdens Skove (Forests of the World)

Download the brief here: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/PKA-divestment-briefing.pdf

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Press Contacts:

Adam Macon, Dogwood Alliance (US), +1(828)713-0047, adam@dogwoodalliance.org

Almuth Ernsting, BiofuelWatch (UK),+44 131 6232600,  almuthbernstinguk@yahoo.co.uk

Andreas Petersen, Verdens Skove (Denmark), +45 71593354, ap@verdensskove.org

Bente Hessellund, NOAH (Denmark),+45 2929 4527, bente@noah.dk

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