Tag Archives: climate

How safe are EU’s natural forests? High level event in EU Parliament.

Sept. 24, Brussels: Forest destruction – only an issue in the Amazon?
*** New report “LOGGING OUT – Saving Romania’s paradise forests” ***

On September 24th, Members of the European Parliament (Michal WIEZIK, Martin HO-JSÍK, Siegfried MUREŞAN, Sarah WIENER) and Humberto DELGADO ROSA (Director at DG Environment of the EU Commission) discuss with NGOs EuroNatur, Client Earth and Agent Green the status and future of EU’s remaining old-growth and primary forests.

Europe’s remaining old-growth and primary forests are an outstanding biological treasure and they store and capture huge amounts of carbon. While the shock about the forest tragedy in the Amazon is substantial, many of Europe’s last natural forests are also under threat, even in protected areas such as Natura 2000 sites and national parks. In the temperate climate zone of the EU, most of these highly valuable forest remains are located in the Carpathians, mainly in Romania, Slovakia and Poland.

A new inventory of Romania’s old- growth and primary forests (“PRIMOFARO”), commissioned by EuroNatur Foundation, reveals a huge extent of close-to-nature forests – and the acute threat they face from logging. The key findings of the inventory will be presented at the event.

The main questions to be addressed at the conference in the European Parliament will be:

• To what extent does the Natura 2000 regime guarantee sufficient conservation outcomes for Eu-rope’s last natural forests?

• In April 2018, a ruling of the European Court of Justice stopped logging activities in Poland’s Bialowieza Natura 2000 site due to severe breaches of the EU Habitat and Birds Directives. But what will happen to the rest of natural forests in Natura 2000 sites?

• Will the EU fulfil its own environmental responsibilities and act to protect our last old-growth and primary forests?

On 10th September 2019, EuroNatur, Client Earth and Agent Green filed an EU complaint against the Romanian government and authorities regarding systematic breaches of EU legislation in the forest sector. Client Earth will explain details of the complaint at the event.

“Today, the climate crisis is on top of the UN agenda in New York. Tomorrow, a forest summit will take place in Berlin. The IPBES Global Assessment Report highlighted that global protection and restoration of natural ecosystems are equally important as fighting the climate crisis. Therefore, the preservation of intact and carbon-rich forest habitats in Europe must be treated as a topic of utmost importance,” Gabriel Schwaderer says.

New report published:
“LOGGING OUT – Saving Romania’s paradise forests”

The report gives an overview about the tragic situation of Romania’s old growth and primary forests, explains the backgrounds and draws solutions.

You can download the report here (or click on image below).

 

Colourful protests outside Romanian parliament call for protection of virgin forests

On Sunday and Monday, 19th and 20th May 2019, environmentalists from EuroNatur and Agent Green joined with citizens of Bucharest to welcome EU Environment Ministers to Bucharest.

On Sunday, residents of the city, young and old, came together to paint the sidewalk in front of the enormous Romanian parliament building (one of the largest buildings in the world) with pictures and inscriptions calling for the protection of Romania’s magnificent forests. Their messages read that  forests are important habitat, they provide clean air and fresh water and are critical to combat climate change.

With the EU election less than a week away, they showed that it is important to vote and that the EU can and should do a lot to more to ensure the last virgin and old-growth forests of the EU are permanently protected.

Romania’s most famous street artist painted a huge picture in the square right in front of Parliament.

Giant street art and banner calling for forest protection outside Romanian Parliament.

On Monday, activists welcomed EU environment ministers who were meeting in the Parliament. with a banner and a television footage showing the loss from logging in Romania’s forests. A bear held a banner showing a large clear-cut forest with the words “Welcome to Romania” highlighting the situation in the country.

Pedestrians, car drivers and bus passengers all showed their support for forest protection. Passersby stopped, cars honked their horns, and people waved from buses and passenger seats. It was clear that Bucharest residents want to see their forest protected.

For the animals that call these forests home, including bears, wolves and lynx, for the protection of the climate and for all future generations – many young kids who painted on the sidewalk – these forests deserve immediate protection..

We call on the Romanian government with the support of the EU to act quickly to permanently protect these crown jewels of European natural heritage.

Auch kleine Waldfans halfen mit

Lawsuit seeks to remove forest biomass from EU’s renewable energy directive

On March 4 2019, a landmark lawsuit against the European Union was launched in Brussels to challenge the new EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED 2). Plaintiffs from the five European Member States Romania, Ireland, Slovakia, France and Estonia are charge that the EU’s 2018 Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) will devastate forests and increase greenhouse gas emissions by promoting burning forest wood as renewable and carbon neutral. 

The legal case, which will be filed in the European General Court in Luxembourg, cites scientific evidence that wood-burning power plants pump more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per unit of energy than coal plants. The EU policy does not count the CO2 emissions from burning biomass fuels for heat or energy, making it appear that These methodas are more climate-friendly than fossil fuels. The plaintiffs are asking the court to annul the forest biomass provisions of RED II in order to render the burning of forest wood ineligible for EU Member State as they try to meet the renewable energy targets and subsidies. 

Burning wood in power plants pumps more CO2 into the atmosphere
(per unit of energy) than coal…

“The EU’s policy relies on the false and reckless assumption that burning forest wood is carbon neutral,” said Dr. Mary S. Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, and lead science advisor on the case. “However, scientists from around the world, including the EU’s own science advisors, warned that burning forest wood actually increases emissions relative to fossil fuels.”    

EU renewable energy directive in contradiction to Treaty of the Functioning of the EU

“The lawsuit we are filing today alleges the EU’s policy fails to comply with nearly all of the principles for environmental policy that are laid out in the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, including that policy should be based on science, address climate change and embrace the principle that polluters pay,” said Raul Cazan, from 2Celsius in Romania, one of the NGO plaintiffs. “It’s hard to imagine a more counter-productive policy than burning forests for fuel.”   

Romanian environmentalist Gabriel Paun from  the NGO Agent Green supports the case as witness.

An overview about the details of the case can be read here.

“We’re in a climate emergency that the EU is exacerbating by treating forests, virtually our only carbon sink, as fuel,” said Peter Lockley, legal counsel for the plaintiffs. “This favored treatment is expanding forest cutting, which in turn is impacting peoples’ property, rights, and livelihoods. It’s vital that people affected by this damaging law are allowed to come before the EU court to challenge it.” 

Subsidies for wood biomass will increase logging, Europe’s last natural and virgin forests will have to pay the price… Image: logging in the heart of Romania’s Domogled – Valea Cernei national park based upon approvals by the state.

In accordance with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations for maintaining a livable climate, the European Commission has called for a climate-neutral EU by 2050, requiring the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions and uptake into carbon sinks, mostly forests by that point. Under RED II, the EU is required to generate at least 32 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 to help reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent in comparison to 1990 levels.  

However, biomass energy is a large and growing part of EU’s renewable energy mix. In 2016, nearly half the renewable energy produced in the EU came from burning woody biomass and the demand is expected to increase with RED II.  

EU subsidies for wood biomass will increase logging of primeval forests

The case argues that not only the uncounted CO2 emissions from this biomass are undermining efforts to address climate change, but subsidies for biomass are increasing the demand and therefore the logging of forests in Europe and North America. The plaintiffs represent areas that have been hit particularly hard, such as the US Southeast, Estonia, and the Carpathian Mountain forests in eastern Europe where some of Europe’s last remaining primeval forests are being logged. 

The suit is being filed by plaintiffs from Estonia, France, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia and the USA. The plaintiffs are bringing the case based on the detrimental impacts from logging and biomass burning they have already experienced and anticipation of future impacts if financial support for bioenergy continues to soar.

“The transformation of the Renewable Energy Directive was the EU’s chance to deal with some of the most egregious problems associated with biomass bioenergy, such as increasing forest harvests and burning whole trees and stumps. On this they largely failed, so it is now up to citizens to take the EU to court and get this disastrous decision turned around” said Hannah Mowat, campaign coordinator at Fern, a Brussels-based NGO working on forests and rights. 

For more information about the case and a background on each of the plaintiffs, go to www.eubiomasscase.org.

The giant clearcuts in the Romanian and Slovak Carpathians are not only a disaster for biodiversity. They also threaten humans by increasing risk of flooding, landslides and avalanches. The large openings also degrade the forest soil and hamper forest growth.