The EU must protect forests, not burn them for energy


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This petition is run by 2Celsius (RO), Clean Air Committee (NL), Estonian Forest Aid (EE), ROBIN WOOD (DE), WOLF (SK) and Workshop for All Beings (PL)

Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and governments of EU Member States,

Preserving nature and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will require an extraordinary commitment to protect and restore natural forests.

Yet, EU leaders are undermining our shared efforts to fight for our forests and the planet. How? EU policy is increasing forest logging and associated greenhouse gas emissions by misleadingly promoting the burning of forest wood as “zero carbon” renewable energy.

Logging and burning forests is bad for the climate, bad for human health and bad for the plants and animals that call forests home. Yet every year, the EU becomes more dependent on burning wood to meet renewable energy targets and consumers are forced to hand over billions in subsidies annually to this false climate solution.

These costs are too high.

We therefore call on EU policymakers and EU Member States to:

  • End subsidies and other incentives for burning forest wood and redirect this critical support to energy efficiency and true low-emissions renewable energy sources
  • Exclude energy generated from burning forest wood from counting toward renewable energy targets
  • Prioritise forest protection and restoration and ensure that all EU policies safeguard our health, the climate and biodiversity
Background: Why is this important? 

Right now, EU policymakers are making critical decisions on how we respond to the climate and biodiversity crises, how we generate energy, and how we protect nature and biodiversity. These decisions will impact us for decades to come. Now is the time to let EU officials know: burning wood for fuel is a disaster for forests and the climate and is not what people want for “renewable energy”.

Energy poverty is a serious problem in the EU, and many people rely on burning wood for heating. Accordingly, this petition does not say “we should not burn wood for energy.” However, lucrative renewable energy subsidies for biomass are driving a surge in forest logging that is increasing CO2 emissions and degrading forest ecosystems. The greenhouse gas emissions impact is worsened because burning wood is taking up precious public funds that should instead be allocated to zero-emissions renewable energy technologies like solar and wind.

The amount of wood burned for electricity generation and heating has increased greatly since the EU started counting it toward renewable energy targets. In the EU, over one-third of renewable energy now comes from burning wood, much of it sourced directly from forests.

EU forests are paying the price. The European Commission’s science advisors recently found the EU is losing forest rapidly, due in part to increased logging for fuel. And it’s not just EU forests that are suffering. The EU imports an increasing amount of wood fuel from the US, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, and even Brazil. The wood pellet industry in North America alone consumes millions of tonnes of trees per year, which is why environmental NGOs from all over the world support this petition.

And biomass energy doesn’t just impact forests and climate – it impacts our health. Wood burning is a major source of the air pollution that already kills over 1,000 people per day in the EU.

EU consumers and taxpayers are paying for this damage to forests, climate and air quality through renewable energy subsidies that are supposed to support “clean and green” energy. In 2017 alone, citizens in 15 EU Member States paid out over €6.5 billion in subsidies to burning wood for energy, and the total EU-wide figure is much higher.

Our forests provide us with fresh air and clean water and they help regulate rainfall cycles. They store carbon, buffer communities from the dangerous impacts of climate change, and are sanctuaries for an incalculable number of plant and animal species. Plundering them for fuel is a false solution that puts all these shared values in danger.

This petition is supported by the following organisations:

  • 2Celsius, Romania
  • Agent Green, Romania
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft Regenwald und Artenschutz (ARA), Germany
  • Arnhems Peil, Netherlands 
  • Avon Needs Trees, UK
  • Bergwaldproject, Germany
  • Biofuelwatch, UK/USA 
  • Bloei! in Arnhem, Netherlands 
  • Bomenstihting Achterhoek, Netherlands 
  • BundesBürgerInitiative Waldschutz, Germany 
  • Canopée, France
  • Cape Fear Group of the Sierra Club, USA 
  • Carolina Wetlands Association, USA
  • Carpatica, Poland
  • CEEWeb for Biodiversity, Hungary
  • Clean Air Carolina, USA
  • ClientEarth, International
  • Coastal Plain Conservation Group, USA
  • Comite Schone Lucht (Clean Air Committee), Netherlands
  • Conservation North, Canada 
  • Corporate Europe Observatory, EU 
  • Danmarks Naturfredningsforening (Danish Society for Nature Conservation), Denmark
  • Denkhaus Bremen, Germany
  • Dogwood Alliance, USA 
  • Ecology Action Centre, Canada 
  • EDSP ECO, Netherlands 
  • Eesti Metsa Abiks (Estonian Forest Aid), Estonia 
  • Environment East Gippsland, Australia
  • Eestimaa Looduse Fond (Estonian Fund for Nature), Estonia
  • EuroNatur, Germany/EU
  • European Wilderness Society, Austria 
  • Federation Against Biomass Plants, Netherlands
  • Forests, Climate and Biomass Working Group, Environmental Paper Network, International 
  • Form Ökologie & Paper, Germany
  • Foundation Alter Eco, Poland
  • Foundation Conservation Carpathia, Romania/EU
  • Foundation GAP Polska, Poland
  • Friends of Nature Conservation, Canada 
  • Friends of the Earth, USA
  • Friends of the Irish Environment, Ireland
  • Fundacja Albatros (Foundation Albatros), Poland
  • Fundacja Dzika Polska (Wild Poland Foundation), Poland 
  • Fundacja Niech Żyją! (Foundation Niech Żyją!), Poland
  • Fundacja “Rozwój TAK – Odkrywki NIE”, Poland 
  • Fundacja Szkatułka, Poland
  • Global Forest Coalition, International 
  • Green Impact, Italy
  • Greenpeace
  • Hiite Maja SA (House of Groves Foundation), Estonia
  • Inicjatywa dla Bialegostoku, Poland
  • Inicjatywa Dzikie Karpaty (Wild Carpathians Initiative), Poland 
  • INSPRO, Poland 
  • Lakelands Citizens for Clean Air, USA
  • Leefmilieu, Netherlands
  • Lesoochranárske Zoskupenie VLK (WOLF), Slovakia
  • Lumber Riverkeeper, USA
  • Magyarorszagi Eghajlatvedelmi Szövetseg (Hungarian Climate Alliance), Hungary
  • Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, USA
  • Mobilisation for the Environment (MOB), Netherlands
  • MTÜ Päästame Eesti Metsad (Save Estonia’s Forests), Estonia
  •, Australia
  • NOAH Friends of the Earth, Denmark 
  • North Carolina Sierra Club, USA
  • NRDC, USA 
  • Obóz dla Puszczy (Camp for forest), Poland 
  • Opolskie Towarzystwo Przyrodnicze, Poland
  • OTOP/BirdLife Poland, Poland
  • Partij voor de Bomen op Texel, Netherlands
  • Partnership for Policy Integrity, USA 
  • Pivot Point, USA
  • Plastic Ocean Project, USA
  • Polska Zielona Sieć (Polish Green Network), Poland
  • Polskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków, Poland
  • Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot (Workshop for All Beings), Poland
  • Protect the Forest, Sweden 
  • Ptaki Polskie, Poland
  • Rachel Carson Council, USA
  • Rådet for Grøn Omstilling (Green Transition Denmark), Denmark
  • Reflex Környezetevedelmi Szervezet (Reflex Environmental Association), Hungary
  • ROBIN WOOD, Germany
  • Schoorlse Bos Moet Blijven, Netherlands 
  • Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Canada
  • SOS Forêt, France
  • South East Region Conservation Alliance, Australia
  • Southern Environmental Law Centre, USA 
  • Southern Forests Conservation Coalition, USA
  • Stand.Earth, USA
  • Stichting De Woudreus, Netherlands
  • Stowarzyszenie Ekologiczno Kulturalne Wspólna Ziemia, Poland
  • Stowarzyszenie Okolica (Okolica Association), Poland 
  • Strajk dla Ziemi – Łódź (Earth Strike Łódź), Poland
  • Strajk dla Ziemi – Warszawa (Earth Strike Warszawa), Poland
  • Towarzystwo na rzecz Ziemi (The Society for Earth), Poland
  • Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group, Ukraine 
  • Verdens Skove (Forests of the World), Denmark 
  • Waccamaw Riverkeeper, USA
  • Werkgroep Bomen Groningen (Workinggroup Trees Groningen), Netherlands
  • Wild Europe Initiative, EU
  • WildLand Research Institute, UK
  • Winyah Rivers Alliance, USA
  • ZERO, Portugal

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