Subject: Stop the destruction of US Southern forests
Dear [decision maker],
I am writing to express my concerns about the devastation to forests and communities in the Southern United States caused by the rapidly increasing demand for wood pellets that are being burned in European power stations. This demand is driven by the Renewable Energy Directive and its recast (REDII). If the 2021-2030 plan continues to get it wrong when it comes to forest-based biomass, this could spell even greater destruction to our climate, precious forests on the ground, and Southern US communities. I ask you to take action now to stand for forests.
The large-scale burning of wood pellets is not a solution to climate change or a feasible alternative to coal. Scientific research has shown time and again that burning wood pellets manufactured from trees will increase near-term carbon emissions and accelerate climate change. For many years, Dogwood Alliance has consistently documented the biomass industry taking whole trees from natural forests in our region to be used for wood pellets in Europe.
Despite this scientific consensus, RED has allowed member states to subsidize the use of wood for renewable energy production. One of our most pressing concerns around biomass is its negative impacts on the climate. Burning wood emits more CO2 than burning coal per unit of energy produced, while compensation for these emissions by future growth of trees is unlikely in the time scales relevant for climate change. If we are to tackle the threat of climate change, the European Union Commission must ban the use of roundwood and stumps in bioenergy production as well as limit biomass use to only highly efficient co-generation plants.
Our living forests provide many benefits. Standing forests are our best defense against climate change through gathering and storing carbon. Forests provide our communities with clean air to breathe, water to drink, and natural protection from flooding and hurricanes. They are home to countless species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. Cutting them down as a solution to the climate crisis is bad policy and makes no sense. We can no longer invest in forest destruction; we need to focus on forest conservation.
Alternatives do exist, including energy efficiency and true renewables like solar, wind, and geothermal energy that are significantly less destructive sources of energy. Rather than investing in near-term and short-sighted solutions, we should be increasing these types of energy investments.
Finally, the wood pellet industry, which is being propped up by policies like RED and its recast, is harmful to communities in the Southern US. Companies like Enviva have track records which suggest they will continue to operate with little regard for their impact on the local forests, air quality, and communities. For example, Enviva's emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include pollutants that are tied to cancer.
Don't let your climate legacy be one of forest destruction and community devastation. Take action now. Consider these alternatives and stop incentivizing the use of trees for fuel in your renewable energy policies. The future of our forests, climate, and community health depends on it.