Open Letter to Vattenfall urging them to stop burning carbon including wood

Letter to Ms Anna Borg, Vattenfall CEO, CC to Mr Martijn Hagens (CEO Vattenfall Netherlands), Mr Alexander Van Ofwegen (Director of Heat Vattenfall Netherlands), Ms Tanja Wielgoss (Chairwoman of the Board Vattenfall Wärme Berlin AG), Mr Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, Swedish Minister for Business, Industry and Innovations

Concerning:  AGM Meeting Vattenfall 28 April 2022

13th April 2022 – We are writing to you on behalf of 16 environmental organisations from six countries to express our explicit objections about Vattenfall’s ongoing reliance on generating energy from burning carbon in general, and your company’s expansion of wood bioenergy in particular, which  is incompatible with the Paris Agreement.

Vattenfall’s motto ‘fossil free living within one generation’ does not reflect the reality and the seriousness of the climate crisis. As the IPCC’s report “Global Warming of 1.5 degrees” makes clear, we have years, not decades, left to drastically reduce greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere. Drastically reducing GHG emissions requires a rapid phase-out of all high-carbon fuels, which, as well as fossil fuels, also means wood biomass combustion as well as waste incineration. Burning wood for energy emits no less carbon dioxide upfront than burning coal. Even if new trees eventually regrow and sequester this carbon in future, this would take far too long to contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Burning wood biomass for energy leads to species extinction and biodiversity loss which are endangering the stability of ecosystems worldwide. In addition, the burning of woody biomass is worsening air quality due to the emission of small particulates, oxides of nitrogen, and other pollutants. This results in both lower climate adaptation and – mitigation.

Now is the time to support a just energy transition based on non-emissive renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal energy, as well as energy conservation and efficiency.

Vattenfalls’ plans to expand wood bioenergy are contrary to what is needed at the moment. We need to decrease our emissions at the source, while simultaneously increasing the forest carbon sinks, whereas burning of forest biomass does the opposite; over the coming decisive decades, it will increase emissions and decrease the forest carbon sinks. Burning wood is fuelling both the climate and the biodiversity crisis.

Putin’s war on Ukraine has once again highlighted the dangers of relying on an extractive, carbon-based energy system, and the need to rapidly implement the energy transition which the climate crisis already requires of us. In this context, we would like to point out that as of 12th AprilMarch, Vattenfall is still buying gas with an average 40% share from Russia and has not publicly announced that they have stopped sourcing and trading wood biomass from Russia, although the EU’s 5th Economic Sanctions package is now stopping all wood imports from Russia. While it still receives coal deliveries Vattenfall has only pledged to not place any further orders from Russia.

Ms Borg, Vattenfall must immediately cancel all plans to build new biomass-burning plants (including in Diemen and Berlin) as well as its plans to increase the amount of wood burned in existing plants.

Furthermore, the company must abandon its wood pellet and woodchip trading activities.

All sourcing of gas and coal energy/feedstock from Russia must be stopped immediately. 

A rapid and comprehensive phaseout of Vattenfall’s current coal, biomass, gas and waste burning portfolio is required, as part of a wider energy shift reliant on energy conservation and clean, non-emissive renewable energy. 

We expect to receive your concrete response to all issues raised in this letter ahead of Vattenfall’s AGM on 28th of April 2022. 

Thank you,


  • Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, UK/USA
  • Fenna Swart, Clean Air Committee NL (Comité Schone Lucht), Netherlands
  • Sophie Bastable, The Forests, Climate and Biomass Working Group (EPN), International
  • Uwe Hiksch, NaturFreunde Deutschlands, Germany
  • Johan Vollenbroek, Mobilisation for the Environment, Netherlands
  • Maarten Visschers, Leefmilieu, Netherlands
  • Lina Burnelius, Protect the Forest Sweden
  • Fred Vos, Duurzaam Dorp Diemen, Netherlands
  • Jana Ballenthien, ROBIN WOOD, Germany
  • Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Germany
  • Lisa Kadel, Kohleausstieg Berlin, Germany
  • Leif Miller, NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V.), Germany 
  • Sommer Ackerman, Luonto-Liitto, Finland
  • Isabelle Axelsson, Europe Beyond Burning, Europe 
  • Anton Foley, Fridays For Future Sweden
  • Rita Frost, Dogwood Alliance, USA