International Campaigns

Global demand for biomass energy is destroying forests around the world.

Rapidly increasing demand for biomass in the EU, UK and Asia is driving exponential growth in wood pellet manufacturing, presenting a genuine threat to forests worldwide, including in the southeast U.S. and Canada. World nations will fail to meet their climate and biodiversity goals if they continue to treat woody biomass energy as carbon neutral and renewable. About five years after launching in the US, PFPI expanded our work internationally to counter this threat.

Under the umbrella of the Forest Defenders Alliance, a diverse coalition of NGOs and activists, PFPI is currently campaigning to reform the biomass provisions in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED). Since the EU started promoting biomass as renewable energy, wood-burning for heat and electricity has more than doubled in the EU, dramatically increasing logging of primary forests for biomass in Europe and abroad. Many EU member states are on the brink of losing their forest and land carbon sinks, or have lost them altogether, in large part due to the logging for biomass energy.

The harm caused by the EU’s biomass policies extends well beyond Europe. In the U.S. Southeast, the wood pellet industry supplying overseas markets is wreaking severe ecological damage and disproportionately harming BIPOC communities. Old growth forests in Canada are increasingly being chopped down for fuel. Other countries, particularly in Asia, have emulated EU’s biomass energy policies, amplifying the pressure on forests around the world. In 2019, international groups sought to block the harm by suing the European Union over its RED policy, but were denied standing.

In September 2022, after hundreds of scientists, NGOs, and more than 250,000 citizens petitioned European leaders to stop treating wood-burning as “renewable energy,” the EU Parliament voted on modest reforms, including recommending a phase-down of primary woody biomass sourced directly from forests. The Forest Defenders Alliance is now seeking to persuade the EU Parliament, Council, and Commission to clarify and strengthen the biomass provisions in Trilogue.

Key resources:

Burning up the carbon sink: How the EU’s forest biomass policy undermines climate mitigation, and how it can be reformed (2022)
Paper Tiger: Why the EU’s RED II biomass sustainability criteria fail forests and the climate (2020)
EU Biomass Legal Case
Forest Defenders Alliance

The EU wants to know how to reduce forest destruction…

We have a few ideas.

Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, European Policy, International, Uncategorized

PFPI Launches Lawsuit Challenging Forest Biomass in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive

The EU’s treatment of forest biomass as carbon neutral is harming forests, the climate, and communities.

All posts, Carbon emissions, European Policy, International, Litigation, Subsidies
body of water under cloudy sky during sunset

Media Briefings for EU Biomass Case

The Center for Climate Integrity will host a media telebriefing to discuss a landmark climate lawsuit being filed that same day against the European Union.

European Policy, International, Litigation

New UK Biomass Policy Removes Subsidies For High-Carbon Wood Pellets

Even ignoring the CO2 coming out the smokestack, the new policy sets a lifecycle emissions standard that imported wood pellets can’t meet

All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, European Policy, International, Subsidies, wood_pellets

Environmentalists applaud UK Government decision to restrict subsidies for new biomass power stations

Decision is key to protecting forests in the US Southeast, which are being cleared to fuel UK wood pellet demand

All posts, European Policy, Forests, International, Subsidies

How UK Bioenergy Hurts Forests and the Climate

If the UK is serious about addressing climate change, it must help restore and expand forests – not burn them for energy.

All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, European Policy, Forests, International, Subsidies

International Scientists to UK: Spending Billions to Burn Trees Won’t Help the Climate

To prevent dangerous climate warming, we need to plant trees, not burn them for energy.

All posts, Carbon emissions, European Policy, International, Massachusetts, Subsidies

Calling Out UK Bioenergy Myths, Facing Realities

How the UK Can Save Forests, the Climate, and Piles of Money

All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, International

DOE’s “Billion Ton” Biomass Report – We read it so you wouldn’t have to

Despite requiring clearcutting of millions of forest acres per year, the Department of Energy declines to assess carbon pollution impacts from a biofueled economy.

All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Forests, International, Science/Analysis

Forest and Climate Impacts of the UK’s Bioenergy Policy

It really is that simple. Claims that biomass “reduces” emissions rely on not counting the CO2 emitted when the biomass is burned.

All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, International