Press release, 17th of October 2017
 
In an open letter, Swedish environmental NGOs urge Members of the European Parliament to account for the full emissions and environmental impacts of biofuels in the Renewable Energy Directive. The current proposal leads to increased harvests as trees from natural forests are burned as biofuel. Instead of decreasing the global emissions of the greenhouse gases, they will increase.
 
Next week, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee will vote on the EU Renewable Energy Directive. The intention of the Directive is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, the Swedish NGOs demand radical improvements in the regulation on biofuels. They ask the MEPs not to be misled by the Swedish and Finnish forest industries which are strong lobbyists. In their open letter, they write:
 
"In Sweden, natural and semi-natural forests are systematically clear-cut and replaced by even-aged conifer tree plantations, poor of species, to acquire alleged sustainable wood products and bioenergy. Still, Sweden promotes itself as a leader when it comes to sustainable forestry and bioeconomy. The Swedish and Finnish Forest Industries are strong lobbyists and use the climate as a pretext to increase their forest harvest, production and economic rates."
 
The letter contains demands for an improved Directive. For example, the NGOs want to phase out food-based biofuels like palm oil, soya and rapeseed by 2030. According to Transport & Environment (2017), emissions from these vegetable oils are usually higher than from fossil fuels. Additionally, the cultivation of biofuels requires large areas of land. For example, rainforest is cut down in order to cultivate oil palms and soya. As a consequence, greenhouse gas emissions increase when forests, which sequester carbon, are harvested, while valuable habitats for animals and plants disappear.
 
The NGOs urge the MEPs to account for the indirect emissions from land use in the greenhouse gas calculations of biofuels. They also encourage the MEPs to support incentives for renewable electrification of transport, principally powered by solar. Moreover, they support no other forest product than forest residues and waste for bioenergy, stating that inefficient electricity production from biomass should not be supported.
 
The following Swedish NGOs have signed the open letter to the Members of the European Parliament: Protect the Forest, Climate Action Sweden, Friends of the Earth Sweden, and PUSH Sweden.
 
The open letter can be read here:

Contact:
Kristina Bäck, Spokesperson, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)70 443 28 19
Jonas Bane, Spokesperson, Climate Action Sweden, +46 (0)70 736 69 32

 Foto:  Achmad Rabin Taim from Jakarta, Indonesia via Wikimedia Commons.

The Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Sven-Erik Bucht, forestry researchers and timber industry representatives was visiting Brazil this week to promote the so-called ‘sustainable’ Swedish model of forestry and their vision of bio-economy. However, according to leading environmental scientists and the Swedish environmental movement, the Swedish model of forestry is far from sustainable. The Swedish organization Protect the Forest warns Brazil that an adoption of (or inspiration from) the Swedish model of forestry risk having detrimental consequences for the climate and biodiversity due to its principal concept of clear-cutting natural forests and replacing them with artificial monoculture plantations and young industrial tree stands with only one or two tree species. Brazil is already losing large areas to deforestation and illegal logging, the Swedish forestry model is not the solution to these problems.

Read the whole document here.

 

 

Press release 7th of April 2017

During the current visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India, investors in the potential financiers of, and the company behind the planned Rampal coal power plant in Bangladesh are being urged to disinvest from the project by over 70 non-governmental organizations.

Non-governmental organisations from around the world today expressed their concerns in a joint letter to banks and investors with links to the different entities that are aiming to construct the proposed Rampal coal-fired power plant, which presents a major threat to the ecological integrity of the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, as well as to the health and livelihoods of millions of local people.

The 1320 megawatt Rampal coal plant project has been proposed by the Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company, and if completed, would be co-managed by the National Thermal Power Corporation of India (NTPC) and debt financed by India’s Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank.

“Investors with funds in NTPC or who hold India Ex-Im bonds must wake up to the Rampal threat and withdraw from climate-hazardous coal based energy projects, rather investing in renewable solar power instead,” said Amanda Tas from the NGO, Protect the Forest. “We also hope that this message gets through to the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India, who are hoping to expand their cooperative relationship. They must realize that burning coal is not an acceptable option, and that protecting the Sundarbans is not negotiable.”

Read the letter here.

The letter to the investors is supported by the following NGOs:

Abibiman Foundation, Ghana
AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women, Philippines
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Pacific
BankTrack, International
Biofuelwatch, UK/USA
Botswana Climate Change Network, Botswana
Friends of the Earth, Bosnia and Herzegovina
CHAUKATH voluntary network of feminists, Nepal
Climate Action Network, International
Climate Litigation Network, Transnational
Conservatree, USA
Cordillera Women's Education Action Research Center (CWEARC), Philippines
Cultures of Resistance Network Foundation
EcoNexus, UK
Ecoropa, Germany
Feminist League, Kazakhstan
Forum Environment and Development, Germany
Forum for Nature Protection NGO, Nepal
Foundation for GAIA, International
Fragile Planet Earth, South Africa
Friends of the Earth US, USA
Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
Friends of the Tamar Valley, UK
Nature and Youth, Sweden
GenderCC - Women for Climate Justice e.V., International
Genethics Foundation, Netherlands
Global Environment Centre, Malaysia
Global Forest Coalition, International
Green IT. Uruguay
Greenpeace Russia
Grupo Para o Desenvolvimento da Mulher e Rapariga, Mozambique
IBON International
ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability – Africa, South Africa
Institute for Planetary Synthesis, Switzerland
Janabhivyakti, India
Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund, Japan
Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN), Japan
Friends of the Earth, Sweden
Klimataktion Stockholm, Sweden
Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, Korea
Michael Underwood Agroforestry Associates Africa, South Africa
Mom Loves Taiwan Association, Taiwan
National Indigenous Women Forum, Nepal
NCA-Afghanistan, Afghanistan
New Wind Association, Finland
Next Big Thing Movement, Inc, USA
Oil Change International
Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), USA
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Malaysia
Planetary Association for Clean Energy (PACE), Canada
Protect the Forest, Sweden
PUSH Sweden
Quercus- National Association for Nature Conservation, Portugal
Rainbow Eco-Farm and Training Center NPO, South Africa
Re-nourish, USA
Rettet den Regenwald, Germany
Rewild, South Africa
Rutale Development Association, Africa Students for a Just and Stable Future, USA
SustainUS, USA
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden
Tanzania Youth Coalition, Tanzania
TFINS, India
Thanal, India
The Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa
Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa
WECF Women Engage for a Common Future, International
Wildlife Impact, USA
Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), International
World Heritage International, Netherlands
YouthNet for Climate Justice, Banglades

Contact
Amanda Tas,
Protect the Forest, Sweden
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +46 (0) 73 5860099

Wally Menne,
Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 4442083

PRESS RELASE, September 26, 2017

Today, Swedish NGOs write an open letter to the EU Environmental Council to express their concern regarding the proposed LULUCF regulation which they say risks having detrimental and long-term effects on both climate and biodiversity. The proposal, which favors an active forestry and supports a decrease of the EU forest sink, is strongly lobbied by Swedish and Finnish Forest Industries, and the NGOs warn the EU decision-makers not to be misled by production interests.

Sweden promotes itself as a leader when it comes to sustainable forestry and bioeconomy. The Swedish and Finnish Forest Industries are strong lobbyists and use the climate as a pretext to increase their forest harvest, production and economic rates, according to the NGOs. By endorsing a so-called bioeconomy, natural forests are systematically clear-cut and replaced by even-aged tree plantations, poor of species, to acquire alleged sustainable wood products and bioenergy.

“The planetary boundaries for climate and biodiversity are already exceeded and catastrophic consequences are ahead if stringent climate mitigation measures are not urgently taken. Sweden can be used as a world-wide example of how harmful clear-cutting methods are used to destroy natural forests in the name of sustainability. Not only that, these harvest methods also increase the emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce the carbon sink, and that is something the LULUCF regulation definitely not should not favor,” said Ahmed Al-Qassam, President of PUSH Sweden.

The NGOs urge the Environmental Council to introduce clear incentives to stop deforestation as well as to ensure policy coherence in relation to the Habitats and Bird Directives, especially when it comes to afforestation, reforestation and restoration of degraded forest lands. Increased harvesting which reduces the forest carbon sink needs to be discouraged and we need economic incentives to climate-friendly forest use and standing forests.

“We hope that the Environmental Ministers of the EU will make sure that they will not be misled by production-orientated claims from the Forest Industries. Climate change and loss of biodiversity are major global challenges. It is very important that the EU does not legitimize a more intensive forestry. We need functional ecosystems to mitigate to climate change,” said Viktor Säfve, co-founder of the Swedish NGO Protect the Forest.  

The following Swedish NGOs have signed the open letter to the EU Environment Council: Protect the Forest, Friends of the Earth Sweden, Naturarvet, PUSH Sweden and Climate Action Sweden (Klimataktion).

The open letter can be found here.

Contact

Viktor Säfve, International campaigns, co-founder of Protect the Forest, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ahmed Al-Qassam, President, PUSH Sweden,
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
+46 (0)72-366 11 88

Today, more than 70 non-governmental organisations from around the world called for the cancellation of the proposed Rampal coal power plant, in an open letter to the governments of Bangladesh and India. The proposed 1320 megawatt Rampal plant, construction of which is planned to start soon, would threaten the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, as well as the health and livelihoods of millions of local people.

Mangrove flora in the Sundarbans.
Mangrove forest in the Sundarbans. Photo: Mohammad Rakibul Hasan

The Sundarbans is a Ramsar-listed wetland and also includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has an extremely rich biodiversity and is of critical importance for globally endangered species, including the Royal Bengal Tiger and Ganges River Dolphin. The Sundarbans also plays a key role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, acting as a carbon sink in its undisturbed natural state, and as a barrier against cyclones, storms and other natural disasters that would become more frequent and intense as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

"The unique ecosystem and biodiversity of the Sundarbans are under severe threat from the planned Rampal power plant,” said Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa. “Local peoples’ right of access to natural resources from the mangrove forests would be at risk. Although Bangladesh has the fundamental right to develop, this right belongs to all of its people, including the most marginalised, and should not be monopolised by big corporations whose only aim is to make profits, often at the expense of the environment and local communities."

The Rampal power plant is a joint project of India's state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and the Bangladesh Power Development Board. In October 2016, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the IUCN identified four key main impacts related to the power plant’s construction: pollution from coal ash by air, pollution from wastewater and waste ash, increased shipping and dredging, and the cumulative impact of industrial and related infrastructure. They both recommend the cancellation of the Rampal power plant project.

“The availability of so-called modern technology is being used as an argument in support of the Rampal project, but this will definitely not keep its pollution to a minimum level,” said Amanda Tas from Protect the Forest, Sweden. “During recent years, coal-carrying vessels have sunk, and one oil spill has already occurred in the area. Rather than to build a climate-damaging coal-fired power plant, both India and Bangladesh should develop renewable sources of clean energy, respecting the environment, and benefiting all inhabitants of the Sundarbans. This must also include the most marginalised, who being largely off the electricity supply grid, and would not benefit from energy produced by the proposed Rampal power plant.”

In the open letter, the organisations call on political decision-makers to immediately halt the Rampal power plant project and other commercial projects in the Sundarbans and its surroundings, and to increase investments in renewable solar and wind power projects. They also urge the Government of Bangladesh to uphold the right to assemble, and to protect the safety of people that exercise this right, including the right to protest against government-approved projects. In January, police used teargas and water cannons against peaceful protesters, injuring about 100 people during a hartal in Dhaka, which was held to save the Sundarbans.

Read the entire open letter here.

Read the press-release including contact information here.

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