Monday, March 27, 2017

[Biofuelwatch] #Axe Drax Protests in London and York, 13 April

Axe Drax! London and York, 13 April
#AxeDrax protests 13 April 2017
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Dear Supporters,
In a surprise move, Drax is holding its 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in York instead of London, on April 13. Biofuelwatch will be holding a demonstration in London targetting Drax's two largest investors. At the same time our allies in Yorkshire will be demonstrating outside the AGM itself.

#AxeDrax in London

Biofuelwatch's #AxeDrax protest in London will this year target Drax's two biggest investors: Invesco and Schroders. We will gather at 12 outside Schroders, on Gresham Street, EC2V 7QA, where we will have speakers from different organisations, banners and props, and we will then head over to Invesco, Drax's largest investor, on London Wall. There is a Facebook event here.
London Biomassive will be having one more meeting and one prop making session before the demo - contact us, or keep an eye on the Biomassive Facebook page, if you want to come.

#AxeDrax in York

The York demo will be outside Drax's AGM at the Royal York Hotel, starting from 10.30 so we can leaflet delegates as they enter the AGM, and finishing by 2pm. This is being organised by local activists against dirty energy in Yorkshire, with support from Coal Action Network. There will be a photo call at 1pm, so if you can't make the whole thing, the latter part only is great. 

Click here to see the Facebook event page here.

Please note, the hotel is in the process of changing its name to the Principle York. It is conveniently situated very close to York train station (Station Road, York YO24 1AA).

Why Drax?

Despite describing itself as 'Europe's largest decarbonisation project', Drax remains the UK's largest coal burner, the largest burner of biomass in the world and the UK's single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Nearly all of Drax's wood pellets are imported, mainly from the southern US. Many of them are sourced from clearcut coastal wetland forests, others from monoculture tree plantations which have replaced biodiverse forests. A lot of Drax's coal comes from Russia and Colombia, where communities have been evicted and have seen their livelihoods destroyed by opencast coal mining. 

Recently, Drax bought Opus Energy and four gas-fired power stations soon to be built, so the company now works across three forms of dirty energy. 

Researchers estimate that around 590 people a year are dying early due to air pollution from Drax Power Station.
In return for trashing forests and digging up communities, Drax is receiving massive subsidies – paid out of a surcharge on our electricity bills – when it should have been closed down years ago. Drax received £584 million of public money in 2016 – that's over £1.5 million every day!

For more info see our Axe Drax campaign page.

Enough is enough!
We believe that energy subsidies should be going towards clean, low-carbon renewable energy such as sustainable wind and solar power, and towards energy efficiency and conservation. Renewable energy subsidies should not be paid for dirty energy that destroys forests, communities and the climate. 
We need a just transition to a genuinely low carbon energy system. Home insulation, wind and solar power can create large numbers of clean jobs.

Photo by Peter Marshall
Copyright © 2017 Biofuelwatch, All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

[biofuelwatch] New Dogwood Alliance report about southern US forests and the impacts of logging, including for wood pellets

Media Release – The Great American Stand: US Forests and the Climate Emergency

By Scot Quaranda
In March 21, 2017

For Immediate Release – March 21, 2017


Report defines key climate solutions connected to forest protection and documents how logging across the US, the world's largest wood producing and consuming country, is threatening the climate and exacerbating the impacts of natural disasters.

Asheville, NC – According to a new report released today on the International Day of Forests, a massive scale-up in forest protection in the United States, is critical to solving the climate crisis and providing a safety net for communities against extreme weather events. Despite its importance, forest protection in the United States is not currently seen as a climate priority, and government and industry often promote increased logging as a climate solution.

"In order to meet the ambitious goals set forward by the Paris Climate agreement, the United States is going to need to aggressively reduce emissions from fossil fuels while also accelerating the removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide by protecting and restoring forests here at home," said Dr. Bill Moomaw, a climate scientist who co-authored the report with Danna Smith, Executive Director of Dogwood Alliance who has been a leader working on the front-lines of industrial logging in the U.S. for over 20 years.


Meanwhile, the rate and scale of logging in U.S. forests for wood, paper and fuel are among the highest in the world. Logging, past and present, has significantly degraded U.S. forests' climate stabilizing capacity, and a new path must forward must be created in order to restore U.S. forests for their climate benefits.

"Forests are both vital to solving the climate crisis and are our best protection against the worst impacts of climate change," said Ms. Smith. "Our hope with this new report is that leaders across federal, state and local governments, businesses, nonprofits and citizens accelerate actions to protect and restore our nation's forests to help solve the climate crisis and protect our most vulnerable communities from the worst effects of climate change."


  • It is only through protecting and restoring forests and rapidly phasing out fossil fuel use, that we can actually reduce the dangerous concentrations of carbon currently in the atmosphere to safe levels.  
  • Forest disturbance from logging in the United States is quadruple that of South American rainforests and is degrading the nation's potential forest carbon sink by at least 35%.  
  • The latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports of greenhouse gas emissions calculate that U.S. forests are removing an amount of carbon from the atmosphere equal to a mere 11-13% of our nation's emissions, half that of the global average of 25% and a fraction of what is needed to avoid climate catastrophe.
  • The failure to transparently report forest carbon sink degradation and carbon emissions from logging in EPA national greenhouse gas emissions reports is shielding the world's largest forest products industry from accountability for climate impacts and preventing much-needed climate progress.
  • 85% of the carbon lost from forests between 2006 and 2010 was from logging, 5x that of drought, insects, fire, wind and forest loss due to conversion, combined.
  • Burning trees in place of fossil fuels for energy accelerates, not reduces, carbon emissions while also further reducing forests' ability to provide critical climate mitigation and other ecosystem services.
  • Two of the most costly natural disasters in the world in 2016 resulted from flooding across the Southeast where logging rates are highest, disproportionately impacting people in rural communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and whose economies are struggling.
  • Expanding forest protection and restoration can make our communities more resilient and mitigate the costs of extreme weather events by increasing natural flood control and helping to stabilize fresh water supplies.
  • New investments in forest protection and restoration can drive business innovation and create new economic opportunities for rural communities.


In the past three years the forests of the coastal South have become the largest source of wood pellet exports to Europe, where they are burned in power stations to generate electricity as a "climate friendly" alternative to coal.

Bill Moomaw states,

"We cannot log and burn our way out of climate change. Logging forests and burning trees to generate electricity in place of coal while not counting the emissions may help governments meet their emission goals, but the atmosphere and climate is where the real accounting takes place. While forests have been successfully regulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 300 million years their potential to address climate change in the coming centuries is significantly underestimated."

Standing forests provide a proven means for atmospheric carbon removal and storage that can operate at the necessary scale and time frame to keep the world from going over the climate precipice. Forest protection, restoration and expansion must therefore become a top priority in America's climate agenda.


To download the report, visit:

# # #


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[biofuelwatch] “Bioenergy Burns Forests”—Environmentalists Denounce UN’s Bioenergy Themed International Day of Forests

"Bioenergy Burns Forests"—Environmentalists Denounce UN's Bioenergy Themed International Day of Forests

20 Mar, 2017 
Posted in bio energyForestsMedia releases

International Day of Forests

March 20, 2017: The UNFAO's [1] "Forests and Energy" theme for this year's International Day of Forests on March 21 [2] misleadingly promotes bioenergy from burning wood from forests as well as from monoculture tree plantations as "sustainable" energy sources. This promotion by FAO comes despite evidence that bioenergy is increasingly contributing to the destruction of forests, and is no better for the climate than fossil fuels, say a large number of international environmental activist groups in a statement [3] and letter to FAO [4] released today.

By calling forests "nature's power house" [5], FAO wants to celebrate the use of forests and tree plantations for meeting people's basic energy needs like cooking or heat, as well as for electricity, industry and potential biofuels for transportation.

FAO conflates both industrial-scale and traditional uses, and perpetuates the myth that industrial bioenergy is renewable and carbon neutral say's the joint statement.

"The FAO is promoting large scale burning of wood for industries like transportation and aviation, or in converting coal fired plants. Bioenergy today receives lucrative subsidies and climate funding as it is now considered a 'renewable' alternative to coal and fossil fuels, but in reality it is not contributing to halting global warming at all," said Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch.

As one example, half of Drax coal power station in the UK, with generous government subsidies, has been converted to burn wood as an alternative to coal. This requires the company to import pellets made from over 12 million tons of wood annually – more than the total wood production of UK [6].

The industry maintains that it relies almost entirely on "wood wastes and residues" [7]. The joint statement debunks this claim, pointing out that "wood wastes and residues are simply not enough. The biomass industry relies on quality wood, sourced directly from forests, and often even shipped to European energy installations all the way from the United States and Russia." Japan, South Korea and Australia are following suit.

Various scientific studies and governmental agencies have already accepted that bioenergy is not carbon neutral, also because it takes too long for trees to grow back [8].

Speculative investments are also increasing, and so are expansions of monoculture tree plantations in Africa and South America in response to the growing demand for wood based bioenergy. This is raising concerns about further land grabbing, human rights violations, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and more [9].

"It's as if the FAO is advertising for the bioenergy industry. This is a naked disregard for international efforts – including FAO's – to promote sustainable development and tackle climate change," said Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition.

[1] The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization –
[2] The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. source-
[5] see:
[6] see 
[7] See for example IEA Bioenergy's claim: "that in the EU, by-products and residues from silviculture are the most common type of feedstock" . This is not backed up by evidence.
[8] Groups such as the Scientific Committee of the European Environmental Agency, Chatham House, the Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency and other scientific journal articles have all clearly rejected bioenergy's carbon neutrality myth.
[9] See for example and


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Monday, March 20, 2017

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: FAO definition must recognize that plantations are not forests!

Press Release: FAO definition must recognize that plantations are not forests!

March 21, 2017

 FAO definition must recognize that plantations are not forests!

On 21 March, the International Day of Forests, 200 organisations are reminding the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that its misleading forest definition dating back to 1948 must be changed. The definition has allowed the plantations industry to hide the devastating ecological and social impacts of large-scale monoculture tree plantations behind a positive forest image.

FAO's forest definition has allowed the plantations industry to call their monoculture plantations of fast-growing species such as eucalyptus, pine, rubber or acacia "forests" because it defines a forest only by the number, height and canopy cover of trees on an area. The FAO forest definition has been used as blueprint for over 200 national and international forest definitions since 1948.

Under the guise of this FAO forest definition, the industry has been able to expand fast, especially in the global South, where monoculture tree plantations now cover some several tens of millions of hectares of land. This expansion has brought misery to countless rural and peasant communities, and indigenous peoples. Families have lost land and livelihood where monoculture tree plantations have taken their land, destroyed their way of life, dried up their water springs and streams and poisoned their food with agro-toxins. (1)

"For almost 70 years, the misleading FAO forest definition has served the tree plantations industry well. They have hidden the destruction caused when diverse forests, grasslands and peatlands overflowing with life are converted into 'green deserts' made up of monoclonal trees in straight rows behind the positive forest image provided by the FAO," says Winfridus Overbeek, international coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement.

Forest restoration as climate protection debate adds urgency to get forest definition right

"With the adoption of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change, revision of this FAO forest definition takes on additional urgency", says Guadalupe Rodríguez from Salva la Selva/Rettet den Regenwald, "it would be a tragedy if the misleading FAO definition makes expansion of these damaging tree monocultures eligible for climate funds earmarked for "reforestation" and "forest restoration."  This would not only harm even more communities where tree plantations take over land used by villagers but also undermine climate protection: Carbon-rich forests could be destroyed and be replaced by monoculture tree plantations with countries claiming that according to the FAO forest definition, no forest area has been lost – despite the massive loss of carbon, biodiversity, water sources and local livelihoods when forests are replaced by monoculture plantations.

An example where the deliberate mis-labelling of plantations as forests allows the plantations industry to tap into climate funds is the 'African Forests Restoration initiative' (AFR100). Launched at the 2015 UN climate meeting, it aims to cover 100 million hectares that participating African governments consider "degraded" lands. The World Bank will make USD 1 billion available for this plan – and relies on the FAO forest definition to define eligibility for funding. Unsurprisingly, one of the most controversial tree plantations companies operating in Africa, the Norwegian-based Green Resources (2), was among the keynote speakers at a 2016 conference in Ghana, where the implementation of the AFR 100 initiative was prominent on the agenda.

2017 FAO International Forests Day theme 'Forests & Energy' shows urgent need to change forest definition 

"Industrialized countries' unsustainable energy demand combined with their new quest for 'renewable' energy is already converting forests in the global South into industrial 'biomass' plantations. Yet, the word 'plantation' does not appear once on the FAO's "Key messages" webpage for the International Forests Day 2017″, says Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa. For example, to fuel all of the UK's energy requirements through eucalyptus­-based biomass would require some 55 million hectares of plantation in Brazil – an area larger than twice the size of the UK.

200 groups today join the more than 130 thousand groups and individuals who called on the FAO in 2015 to rise to the challenge and urgently change the FAO forest definition because tree plantations are not forests.

(1) The letter sent to FAO today can be found here. It is also available in Spanish, French and Portuguese.

(2) In response to the 2015 petition signed by over 130,000 people calling on FAO to change its forest definition, the FAO claims that its role is merely to harmonize the different national and international forest definitions of forests elaborated since 1948. However, the letter sent today shows how this view ignores that in fact, the FAO forest definition is THE reference for many of the national definitions, in the UN climate talks, in initiatives such as AFR100, etc.


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