Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency Report Under Fire for Greenwashing

Environmental NGOs have slammed a new report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency for not heeding the advice of scientists, during an assessment of subsidies to the Dutch biomass industry.

The report entitled, “Availability and Sustainability of Biomass” (published Friday 8th, May 2020), is intended to inform a forthcoming policy review by the Netherlands’ Social and Economic Council (SEC), and draws upon various studies which conclude that large-scale burning of wood for energy is not compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees –– the current target of the UN Paris Agreement.

However, the authors of the PBL report conclude that a climate policy without a significant role for biomass would be “risky” and that it was “advisable to invest in sustainable biomass production” –– essentially giving the green light to continued expansion of the Dutch biomass industry.

The release of the long awaited report spurred a torrent of tweets from environmental NGOs such as Biofuelwatch, Dogwood Alliance, Fern, Global Forest Coalition & Friends of the Earth NL, amongst others –– calling for an end to biomass subsidies:

In a statement for Biofuelwatch, Almuth Ernsting writes:

We are deeply disappointed that the Environmental Agency report endorses further support for expansion of biomass energy despite listing a host of studies and reports which show that the climate impacts of cutting down and burning trees for energy is no better than those of burning coal. The authors are using “uncertainties” and lack of consensus as a reason to embrace more ‘business as usual’ biomass energy, whilst recommending more monitoring, research and consideration of changes to sustainability standards which haven’t been shown to have had any impact in the first place. This is the opposite of the precautionary principle to which the Netherlands and the EU have signed up to.”

While in a statement for Dogwood Alliance, Rita Frost explains:

Every year since 2013, we have observed Enviva, the world’s largest pellet producer and a supplier of RWE Netherlands, sourcing whole trees from what once were beautiful natural forests The Netherlands is subsidising forest destruction through taxpayers’ money, and this needs to stop.”

Press-releases by Biofuelwatch & Dogwood Alliance, on the PBL report can be found here:

Biofuelwatch press-release: Biomass report by Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency slammed as a “greenwash” by international environment campaigners