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Bioenergy: Presentations

Forest restoration - Our secret weapon for achieving the Paris Agreement targets

To reach the Paris Agreement temperature target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees we must preserve and restore forests. On 16 November 2017 our event looked at how forest restoration can be undertaken in a way that protects local people’s rights and consider ways to mobilise finances for protection and restoration. The event was organised by Fern and Rainforest Foundation Norway at the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion during the international climate negotiations in Bonn (COP23).
Speakers highlighted the need for forest restoration to limit global warming, the risks and possibilities linked to restoration especially from the point of view of local people and the need to reverse financial flows to allow forests to contribute to climate action.
- Kevin Anderson, Manchester University: Why we need negative emissions
- Kate Dooley, Melbourne University: How can forests contribute to generating
negative emissions?
- Julia Christian, Fern: Forest restoration and respect for local people's rights
- Charlie Parker, independent consultant: Financing forest climate Action
Comments to presentation were given by Inka-Saara Arttijeff (Adviser to the President of the Sami Parliament of Finland) and Emmy Primadona (Indonesian Community Conservation, KKI WARSI). Arttijeff pointed out to the serious impacts that logging in Sami area has to the climate and the livelihoods of indigenous Sami reindeer herders and the role of land rights in securing multiple benefits (See also Fern report Arctic Limits). Primadona highlighted the results that have occurred when needs of local communities are recognised and restoration is linked to livelihoods.

The story of bioenergy

Bioenergy is not the green dream solution. Misuse of bioenergy can be disastrous for the climate. Burning whole trees for energy can decrease forst carbon sinks, and destroy habitats and livelihoods. This presentation shows you where you can find more information about the risks of unrestricted use of bioenergy, and how they can be addressed.

Lungs of the Earth – forest policies for health and climate


“How can forests help the EU meet its climate, energy and clean air objectives?” This was a key question discussed on 28 September 2017 at an event looking at current and future forest-related policies. It was hosted by MEPs Paul Brannen (S&D) and Benedek Jávor (Greens) on behalf of Fern and Birdlife Europe.

The event brought together policy officers and key decision-makers from the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament working on the Clean Energy Package and the LULUCF Regulation, as well as stakeholders from forestry and wood-working industries, NGOs, and academics.

Speakers’ presentations looked at the important links between forests, climate and health.

Jaana Bäck and William Gillet presented the main messages of Multi-functionality and Sustainability in the European Union's Forests a report published in May by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). The report provides an excellent starting point for a discussion about how European climate and energy policies affect forests.

Carlo Calfapietra explained trees’ role in cleaning our air and described the pollution associated with burning biomass.

Professor Jaana Bäck, University of Helsinki, Chair of the expert group of the EASAC report - The climate impacts of EU's multifunctional forests.


Director William Gillet, EASAC Energy Programme - How to build climate and energy policy that addresses multiple targets for forests?

Carlo Calfapietra, senior researcher at the Italian National Reasearch Council, Institute of Agro Environmental & Forest Biology (IBAF) - The effect of forest ecosystems and biomass combustion on air quality


European forests play a diverse role: they are central to climate change mitigation, provide important habitats for species, have a significant social role, contribute to human wellbeing, are used as a material for numerous purposes and clean the air we breathe. European policy-makers must therefore deliver renewable energy and climate policies which allow forests to fulfil all these important roles.

How to improve the leaked #EUbioenergy proposals

How to improve the leaked #EUbioenergy proposals explains the problems with using biomass for renewable energy and how the European Commission should change its proposal for new bioenergy policy to make sure bioenergy works for people and the planet.

Presentations from negative emissions seminar

This seminar held in May 2016 brought key scientists together with environmental, development and human rights NGOs to understand the Paris Agreement’s implications for forests and land use. A final report of the meeting gives an overview of discussions and presentations given.




Presentations were:

Brendan Mackey, Griffith University, Australia: What role do forests play in the forest carbon cycle?

Sivan Kartha, Stockholm Environment Institute: IPCC scenarios and negative emissions assumptions

Tim Searchinger, Princeton University: IPCC scenarios and bioenergy assumptions

Kate Dooley, University of Melbourne: Potential impacts (ecological, biophysical, social) from scaled up negative emissions and bioenergy

Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch: Could BECCS remove CO2 from the atmosphere?

Kevin Andersen, Tyndall Centre: What does a 1.5°C scenario without negative emissions look like?

After presentations and discussions, participants agreed on the following priorities:

  • Urgent need to reduce emissions
  • Urgent need to increase carbon sequestration in land and forests
  • Forests and land do not offset fossil fuel emissions
  • Redefine ‘negative emissions’

Presentations from event "How sustainable is Scandinavian biomass?"

By 2020, bioenergy will account for more than 10 per cent of total energy consumption in the EU. Scandinavian forests will be a significant source of biomass for energy, but intensified harvesting could substantially harm biodiversity and impact on the climate.

On 30 January, Satu Hassi MEP (Greens/EFA), EEB, BirdLife Europe, ClientEarth and FERN organised an event in the European Parliament on sustainability of Scandinavian biomass.

The event included presentations from Professor Bengt Gunnar Jonsson (Mid Sweden University), Jonas Rudberg (Swedish Society for Nature Conservation) and Anna Repo (Finnish Environment Institute).

Panellists were Olof Johansson (Sveaskog), Hans Van Steen (European Commission, DG Energy), Petteri Kuuva (Ministry of Employment and Economy, Finland), Sini Eräjää (Finnish Association for Nature Conservation) and Ariel Brunner (BirdLife Europe)


Further information:

NGO briefing on biomass

Report from FANC “Felling the golden goose. The sustainable limits of Finland’s biomass ambitions”

Report from SSNC “Credibility at stake”

Presentations from event "Carbon emissions from bioenergy - how it impacts our climate"

Bioenergy will account for over 10 per cent of total energy consumption in the EU by 2020.

On 29 March, Linda McAvan MEP (S&D), Fiona Hall MEP (ALDE), Bas Eickhout MEP (Greens/EFA), BirdLife, FERN and the European Environmental Bureau organised an event in the European Parliament which discussed sustainability issues linked to biomass for energy and the impact on the climate, for 2020 and beyond.

The event included presentations from Neil Bird (Joanneum Research), David Carr (Southern Environmental Law Center, US) and Detlef Sprinz (Chairman Scientific Committee, European Environment Agency).

Further information:

  • NGO briefing on biomass
  • Opinion of the EEA Scientific Committee on Greenhouse Gas Accounting in Relation to Bioenergy
  • Study from the Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Forest Guild and the Spatial Informatics Group on "Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests"
  • Searchinger et al., Fixing a critical carbon accounting error; (Science, October 2009)
  • Haberl et al., Correcting a fundamental error in greenhouse gas accounting related to bioenergy; (Energy policy, February 2012)


  • BirdLife, EEB and FERN media release
  • Euractiv article "Biomass 'insanity' may threaten EU carbon targets" – published 2 April 2012


Most recent publications

Climate the loser as the European Parliament fails to ensure wood is burnt sustainably

(Brussels) – 17 January 2018. The European Parliament today failed to help the climate by reversing the European Union’s (EU) disastrous bioenergy policy. 

PDF iconEP bioenergy_RED_vote_Fern_PR.pdf589.49 KB

EU proposals on bioenergy: a serious threat to climate and sustainable development goals

This letter written on behalf of 30 NGOs asks Members of the European Parliament to support crucial changes to the proposed rules on bioenergy in the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive.

Covered in smoke: why burning biomass threatens European health

Tens of thousands of EU citizens are dying prematurely every year as a result of exposure to air pollution from burning solid biomass, mainly wood, to provide heat and electricity.

Council fails to make the EU’s use of biomass sustainable

This press release responds to EU Energy ministers failure to ensure #EUbioenergy is sustainable. By allowing large scale burning of trees for power they are likely to increase forest logging and emissions.

PDF iconFern_PR_Council Decision_REDII.pdf478.62 KB

Forest restoration - Our secret weapon for achieving the Paris Agreement targets

To reach the Paris Agreement temperature target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees we must preserve and restore forests. On 16 November 2017 our event looked at how forest restoration can be undertaken in a way that protects local people’s rights and consider ways to mobilise finances for protection and restoration.

Playing with Fire: Europe's bioenergy future

Many European countries rely on bioenergy to meet their renewable energy targets - with detrimental impacts on forests, air quality, the climate and the European wood industry.