Bioenergy and Forests

This editorial is part of Forest Cover issue nº47. If you want to read or download the rest of the articles please go to

By Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch, USA

Board member of the Global Forest Coalition

Forests continue to be caught in the climate crosshairs. On the one hand, REDD and forest offsets are promoted as ‘protecting carbon sinks’, with the potential to create profits for carbon market players. On the other hand, subsidies and targets for renewable energy continue to promote the cutting, burning, refining, converting to plantations, and genetic engineering of forests, under the false pretense of providing ‘solutions’ to climate change.

Many large ‘green’ organisations and others continue to call for ‘100% renewable energy’ as the primary centerpiece of their demands of policymakers. Yet in both Europe and the United States about 50% of this much-touted renewable energy production is from bioenergy. That includes burning trees (and increasingly, municipal waste) for electricity, and growing and refining industrial crops for liquid biofuels. The remaining 50% of renewable energy production is primarily from large hydroelectric dams. The contribution from wind and solar, while it is inevitably featured in imagery and hyped as ‘rapidly expanding’, is still minimal.

Burning wood for electricity, especially co-firing in coal plants, is one of the fastest growing forms of bioenergy. The UK is a case in point, importing more wood pellets than any other country. Last year 4.6 million metric tonnes of pellets were imported, which would have required 9.2 million metric tonnes of harvested wood to produce. To put this in perspective, the UK’s total annual domestic production of wood is 11 million metric tonnes, but little of that is used for bioenergy. Rather, the UK is almost entirely dependent on imports for this purpose.[1] Continue reading

About Dignity and Transformation – Where will the SDGs lead us?

by Ashish Kothari and Simone Lovera

Timed perhaps as a new year gift to the world, the UN Secretary General put out in December 2014 a boldly worded document ‘The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet’. As a call to all countries to respond to the political, economic, and ecological crises we face, the document lays out a new agenda for the future, and steps towards the same. Ending poverty and inequality, tackling injustices of various kinds, ensuring health and inclusiveness (especially of women and children), sustaining the planet that sustains us, and achieving economic prosperity for all: these are the ingredients. But are the vision and the strategies laid out  sufficiently transformative, helping us deal with the fundamental causes of our multiple crises? Continue reading

Declaración pública en rechazo a reciente estudio de la CORMA sobre el aporte económico y social del sector forestal

El estudio “Actualización de evaluación del aporte económico y social del sector forestal en Chile y análisis de encadenamientos, año 2014” realizado por PROGEA1, Universidad de Chile, para la Corporación Chilena de la Madera (CORMA) ha sido publicado recientemente en el sitio web de esta última entidad gremial. A partir de este estudio, la CORMA ha proclamado que: “la pobreza bajó en comunas forestales, reflejando el impacto que ha tenido el sector forestal en el desarrollo a nivel local”.

Declaramos que se trata de una consultoría falaz y sesgada. El documento analiza la evolución de la pobreza en un período de 40 años, concluyendo que ésta bajó en comunas forestales. Es de público conocimiento que a nivel nacional la pobreza bajó a nivel nacional de 38.6% en 1990 a 14.4% en 2011 (CASEN 1990, 2011). Siguiendo la metodología del estudio, se podría concluir, por ejemplo, que bajó la pobreza en las comunas contaminadas y en las comunas afectadas por los terremotos, reflejando el impacto de la contaminación y terremotos en el desarrollo a nivel local. Continue reading

Burning the Planet, One Climate COP at a time

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 23.44.46For the third year in a row, a typhoon wreaked havoc on the Philippines during a Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In 2012, during the UNFCCC COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, Typhoon Bopha, the strongest ever to hit Mindanao, the southern area of the Philippines, left more than a thousand dead and thousands more homeless. In 2013, during the COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland, Typhoon Haiyan, a super typhoon of levels never seen before in the Philippines, made landfall and devastated millions of families, displaced an estimated 4 million people, and, left in its wake at least 6,100 dead, making it the deadliest typhoon to ever hit the country. Storm surges brought by the super typhoon violently washed away entire communities. This year, 2014, during the COP 20 in Lima, yet again another super typhoon made its way to the Philippines. Initially a category 5 super typhoon, Typhoon Ruby, weakened to a category 3 once it made landfall. Its path however included the communities still reeling from devastation of Typhoon Haiyan the year before. Continue reading

Protect Gariwong Mountain – Letter to the International Olympic Committee

the International Olympic Committee
Château de Vidy, Case postale 356 1001 Lausanne
Switzerland. Phone +41 21 621 61 11
Dear Madam, Sir,
On behalf of Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition we call on you to save the unique virgin forest at Mount Gariwang, which is currently threatened by destruction to make way for an Alpine Ski course at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. We know the International Olympic Committee has made a binding commitment to environmental responsibility in 1996, through an amendment of the Olympic Charter. Yet it is threatening to sacrifice a site of significant ecological and cultural significance for the 2018 Olympic games despite the fact that the Ski federation rules allow for the site to be spared. Continue reading