International NGOs Call on Dutch Government to Improve Biomass Inquiry by Increasing Transparency and Considering All Evidence


Organizations state that, “Setting sustainability standards must consider NGO reports and investigations, and be published in English”

21 January 2020 – A couple days ahead of the release of the initial results and main conclusions of a joint fact finding mission on the availability and sustainability on biomass, over 20 NGOs primarily based in the United States and Estonia sent a formal request that the results include NGO reports in their inquiry and that they are published in English. The inquiry is being carried out by the Planning Office for the Living Environment (“Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving” or PBL) in the Netherlands. 

Forests in the United States and Estonia are the primary locations from which the Netherlands sources from to import and burn wood pellet biomass in power stations and generate industrial-scale electricity. Following the conclusion of the study that the PBL will release in March, a council in the Netherlands will use those results to set standards for biomass. 

In the formal request, the NGOs clearly explain why non-peer reviewed evidence must be considered: namely, over the years, scientific inquiry has been limited. In general, it does not consistently establish the origin of the wood burned in Dutch power stations, examine the logging methods used, nor does it expose the direct impact this logging has on forests from which the pellet wood is sourced. This evidence has almost exclusively been gathered and distributed by NGO watchdogs (1), community group citizen science (2,3), and prominent media outlets (4, 5, 6, 7).

Furthermore, the PBL has dodged requests that the results are posted in English. In order for transparency and review of the results of the joint fact-finding mission, the NGOs formally request that PBL posts results in English in order to allow international review from non-Dutch speaking scientists and NGOs.

You can see the request here.

The lack of transparency, limitations of evidence, and limitation of independent scientists’ involvement in the consultation has been unsatisfactory to many parties. One scientist that was originally part of the consultation withdrew for this very reason (8).

  1. Biomass Investigation booklet 
  2. Air Quality Fact Sheet 
  3. Environmental Integrity Project Biomass Report 
  4. Zembla: Forests as fuel (March 22, 2017
  5. TV2 reveals climate control errors (September 10, 2019)
  6. Channel 4 News, Dispatches, Forests in the U.S. cut down and burnt (2018)
  7. Washington Post: How Europe’s climate policies led to more U.S. trees being cut down (2015)
  8.  “Searching for facts without reality” NRC

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