Stop Thinking of Europe as Climate Leaders

In January of this year, the European Union Parliament’s vote on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) failed forests by neglecting to rule out the burning of stumps and stemwood for bioenergy. The final vote is in: sadly, the European Union failed to Stand for Forests and decided to keep incentivizing the widespread burning of forests as “carbon neutral.”

The EU’s disastrous decision to keep burning forests for fuel for the next 12 years marks their fall from grace as environmental champions.

It may seem like a long time, but we only have until 2030 to start hitting our emissions goals or else we all face climate disaster. That means we must start transitioning our energy, transport, and land sectors in ways that decrease emissions and support increased carbon sinks right now. Burning forests that store carbon and protect us from climate change is taking us in the absolute wrong direction. This policy decision equals more forest destruction, a weakening of our global carbon stores, and more emissions from smokestacks coming out of the EU.

The EU is planning to increase its emissions when it’s supposed to be transitioning off all emissive sources and strengthening natural carbon stores like forests.

The EU can no longer pretend to be climate leaders. We know without a doubt that burning forests for energy will increase Europe’s emissions.

Every time a government fails to act, they’re turning their back on this very real, very catastrophic problem.

Since the EU failed, it’s up to its member states, like France, Germany, and Italy, to ensure that our forests, communities, and ability to build resiliency against climate change are not undercut by this disastrous RED II policy decision. The best chance of forcing the individual European countries to do the right thing, of course, lies with people.

The power lies with the forest & climate movement gathering in large enough numbers to change the minds of those who hold the policy reigns.

The people who live in the Southern United States, the world’s region that is being hit hardest to produce wood pellet biomass, know the effects of these policies and have been standing against them for years. Hundreds of thousands of messages have been sent, and the movement is growing.

At Dogwood Alliance, we’re mobilizing a vast forest, climate, and justice movement to pressure elected officials to value forests more.

Standing forests are our best solution to get carbon out of the atmosphere and tackle climate change. We have the power to turn the situation around.

Protecting forests is important for more than just carbon storage, it would also improve water quality, restore ecosystems, and preserve biodiversity.

The people-powered pressure is working: Belgium was once a huge expansion market for biomass, but now that honeymoon is over; the Netherlands is placing severe limits on the kinds of biomass it will accept, which will limit reckless burning of any and all kinds of biomass.


The EU member states who want to be forest champions and climate leaders must set the bar higher than this backward RED II policy.

To get there, we must start now and we must look for member state champions in the European Union who will:

  1. stop all burning of biomass as a “renewable” energy source
  2. protect forests for their climate and community benefits

Take the pledge to Stand4Forests.

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