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Forests and climate: Press Releases

Climate and the Sámi people threatened as Finland attempts to hide its forest emissions

Finland’s industrial logging is already threatening the climate and its indigenous Sámi people, and yet last year the Finnish government confirmed its intention to increase harvesting the country’s forests by nearly 25 per cent  from present levels by the year 2030. The carbon dioxide released from the logging will be vast. 

This press release launches Fern's research Arctic Limits: How Finland’s forest policies threaten the Sámi and the climate, timed to input into European Parliament and European Council discussions on a new regulation on emissions from the forests and land use sector, known as LULUCF.

PDF iconFinland PR_final.pdf481.6 KB

Aviation sector threatens to undermine Paris Agreement

This press release explains why the aviation sector’s plan for tackling its greenhouse gas emissions would have disastrous consequences for the climate.


Fern reaction to Commission's proposal for LULUCF regulation

Commission’s forest proposal weakens EU Paris climate commitment

The European Union’s fight against climate change has been undermined by new proposals for tackling emissions from land and forests. The proposals outlined today by the European Commission for integrating emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) into its climate and energy package, will allow Member States to emit more, bringing the EU’s headline ‘at least 40 per cent’ reduction target down to less than 39 per cent, when all loopholes are accounted for.More information about the impact of this proposal, see our video 'Introducing LULUCF'


UK referendum must not derail EU climate policy

Brussels- based green NGOs, including Fern, have urged the European Commission to push on with its 2030 climate legislation - despite the uncertainty in the wake of the UK referendum result. 

EU land and forests can help EU be more ambitious on climate, new study shows

As the ratification process for the Paris Agreement begins, a new study shows how the EU’s new policy on land and forests could help the EU be more ambitious given the Commission’s reluctance to increase climate targets.

In the study, the Oeko-Institut and forest and rights NGO Fern suggest the EU could set a positive precedent for international climate policy if they developed a separate pillar with its own target for the so called ‘LULUCF’ sector.

LULUCF covers land use, land-use change and forests and is one of the most hotly debated topics of the EU’s climate and energy package. The European Commission will shortly publish a proposal for how to integrate LULUCF in the climate package

The new ambitious temperature target in the Paris Agreement also means that more must be done to protect and restore forests and land that store CO2. At the same time, the EU must do much more to cut greenhouse gases.

Hannes Boettcher lead author of the study said: “LULUCF is at a crossroads – depending on how rules are set and where it is integrated in the overall package, it could either increase or decrease the EU’s greenhouse gas target. In this study, we suggest developing a separate pillar with specific criteria the EU could use to design a meaningful target to incentivise better climate performance in LULUCF.”

Creating a separate pillar would prevent the EU from using temporary carbon removals from forests and land to dilute the Effort Sharing Decision. Previous research from the Oeko-Institut had shown that adding LULUCF to the Effort Sharing Decision could weaken it by up to 65 per cent.

Fern’s forest and climate campaigner, Hannah Mowat, welcomes this research: “As every year is hotter than the last, Fern believes we need action on all fronts, reducing emissions and restoring degraded landscapes. Our policies need to reflect that. This needs to be done with and by local communities who are affected by land use decisions and have the right to be involved.”

This research complements other reports released this week that look into how the EU can increase climate ambition in the short term, such as by increasing the energy efficiency target or safeguarding the integrity of the Effort Sharing Decision to focus exclusively emissions reductions.



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Aviation industry’s offset plans distracts from urgent need to reduce emissions, say environmental NGOs

Embargo until 00:01 GMT 4th April 2016

As member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the United Nations’ specialised aviation agency, gather in Utrecht to discuss ways to ‘offset’ emissions from the airline industry, 79 environmental NGOs from five continents are demanding that it adopts a serious plan to reduce emissions.At its assembly in September 2016, the ICAO plans to adopt measures to achieve "carbon-neutral growth" from 2020. It proposes to achieve this through carbon offsetting via a global market based mechanism (GMBM). The statement says plans to offset a significant portion of the sector's emissions through the GMBM are a significant distraction from the real measures that need to be taken to reduce aviation emissions.

Aviation is one of only two sectors worldwide with no targets to reduce emissions. Under business-as-usual, aviation is projected to increase emissions by between 300 and 700 per cent by 2050, despite only being used by 3-7 per cent of the world’s population.

The meeting in Utrecht on 4 and 5 April is part of ICAO’s Global Aviation Dialogue to consult members on the design of the GMBM.

Monika Lege from Robin Wood, a signatory of the statement, says: "The proposal to offset emissions to achieve Carbon Neutral Growth is unsuitable.  German NGOs are instead proposing a global tax on CO2 equivalents that should be introduced globally."

Since particular interest is being paid to land- and forest-based offsets, the statement emphasises that forests and land do not offset continued fossil fuel emissions. Hannah Mowat, land and climate campaigner from Fern, says: “ICAO’s own standards rule forests and land offsets out from the start, because they need to be permanent emissions reductions, which is impossible to prove for forests because the removals are reversible.”

Furthermore, ICAO’s standards preclude double-counting of offset credits, particularly difficult where forests are concerned as these are typically already included in national greenhouse gas balance sheets, through countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). ICAO standards also require offsets to ‘do no harm’. Given the countless stories of social conflict due to people being denied access to their land and restricting their traditional use of forests, airlines must think twice about the likely damage to communities – and hence their reputation.

“While the aviation industry dithers, the pace of climate change quickens,” adds Isaac Rojas from Friends of the Earth International. “With only six years left until our cumulative emissions put the 1.5-degree temperature target out of reach, proposing to offset emissions is risible. There is real urgency to reduce emissions."


79 signatory organisations: Abibimman Foundation, Ghana , Accion Ecologica, African Youth International Development organisation, AMAF-BENIN, Aliança RECOs – Redes de Cooperação Comunitária Sem Fronteiras, Brazil, Amis de la Terre, France, Amigos da Terra, Brazil, Alternatives Durables pour le Développement, Cameroon , Attac Austria, Attac France, ARA, Germany, APED, Cameroon, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Asia-Pacific , Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development, Philippine, Avenir Climatique, France, CADTM International, CarbonMarket Watch, Belgium,, Climate Express, Belgium, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha & India Climate Justic, Both ENDS Netherlands, Brot für die Welt, Germany, Bruno Manser Fonds, Switzerland, Ciel voilé, France, Censat Agua Viva- Amigos de la Tierra Colombia, Colectivo Ts'unel Bej, Mexico, Counter Balance, Czech Republic, COECOCEIBA, Costa Rica, Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium, CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium, CRAD, Central African Republic, denkhausbremen, German, Digo Bikas Institute, Nepal, DKA Austria, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, European Institute for Sustainable Transport, Germany, FAJOID, Cameroon , Fairwatch, Italy, Fern, Belgium, Finance & Trade Watch, Austria, Focus on the Global South Thailand, Philippines, India, Food & Water Europe, Belgium, Food & Water Watch, USA, Fórum Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Social  - Brasil, Forum Ökologie & Papier, Germany , Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Friends of the Earth Norway, Friends of the Earth, Scotland, Friends of the Earth International , Friends of the Earth, US, Fundación Solon, Bolivia, GAIA - Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, UK, Global Forest Coalition, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, US , Green Development Advocates, Congo Basin, Green Budget Germany, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nigeria, Indigenous Environmental Network, Institute for Policy Studies - Climate Policy Program, Leave it in the Ground Initiative, Movimento Mulheres pela P@Z!, Brazil, New York Climate Action Group, US, Pro REGENWALD, Germany, Re:Common, Italy, Rettet den Regenwald e.V., Germany, REDD:Monitor, Robin Wood, Germany, Salva la Selva, Spain, Society of akumals vital ecology, SONIA for a Just New World, Italy, TaCa, France, Terra, Italy, Third World Network, TierrActiva Peru, Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa, Werkgroep Toekomst Luchtvaart, Netherlands, Woodland League, Ireland, World Rainforest Movement


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Coal’s hidden ‘double whammy’: global map reveals 12 million hectares of forest at risk

A new report released at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris reveals that a forest area larger than Portugal is at risk from coal mining worldwide, with forests in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, India, Colombia and the United States particularly vulnerable.

The report, which provides the first global map of where forests are being destroyed for coal mines, argues that granting land rights to forest communities can keep forests standing and coal in the ground

The report, Double Jeopardy: Coal’s threat to Forests, by forests and rights NGO Fern, provides the first global map of where forests are at risk of being torn down for coal mines. Burning coal and
destroying forests both release carbon into the atmosphere, so when forests are cleared for coal mines the threat to the planet intensifies.

Overlaying coal mining concession and forest cover data for four of the world’s five biggest coal producers, among other countries, the report shows at least 11.9 million hectares of forest across the world are threatened.

“These maps give the first global picture of where forests are being destroyed for coal mining, a ‘double whammy’ for the climate,” said Saskia Ozinga, Fern’s campaign co-ordinator. “Negotiators gathering in Paris need to recognize that clamping down on coal mining would not only reduce carbon emissions, it would help to save forests and all of their benefits.”

The report finds that forests in the following five countries are under urgent threat:

- In Indonesia, 8.6 million hectares of forest is threatened: almost nine percent of the nation’s total forest cover.

- In Australia, coal mining threatens more than 1.3 million hectares of forest, or an area equal to more than 2.1 million football fields.4

- In Canada, more than 1.1 million hectares of forest is threatened in the province of British Colombia alone. - In both India and Colombia, coal mining threatens more than 250,000 hectares of forest, or the equivalent of 400,000 football fields.

- In the United States more than 211,000 hectares of forest is threatened by mining activity across the Appalachian States.

The report recommends that strengthening the rights of communities who live in forested areas is one way to reduce emissions in many of the impacted countries.

“Repeated evidence shows that the best guardians of forests are the people who live in them,” Ozinga added. "Protecting communities’ rights to forests with strong land rights is essential to keeping forests standing, and where coal’s beneath it, keeping it in the ground.”

The report cites the case of India, where the landmark Forest Rights Act (FRA) has been a vital safeguard against wiping out forests for coal, notably in the struggle between the UK company Essar and the Indian government on the one hand, and local ‘tribal’ people on the other, over the former’s plans to create an open cast coal mine in the Mahan forest, in Madhya Pradesh.

According to the report, forests under threat in Australia, the world’s fifth biggest coal producer, include Leard State Forest, where the development of three open-cut coal mines would destroy some of the nation’s last unbroken remnants of critically endangered Box-Gum Woodland and lead to a greenhouse gas impact higher than that all but 50 of the world’s nations. The mines will also destroy 38 sacred Aboriginal burial and heritage sites.

Rick Laird, a local farmer whose family have been in the area for five generations, has been at the heart of protests against the mines. In November 2014, he was arrested for chaining himself to a coal mining digger alongside Australian rugby star, David Pocock.

Laird said: “This is not just about climate change, or divesting [from coal projects], but about farmers being directly impacted by lack of water and dust pollution.”

Dr Jess Neumann of GIS Mapping Services, who produced the maps for the report, said that the scope of the coal-deforestation problem is certainly greater than this report suggests.

“Using the best available global forest and coal mining data, we’ve shown where coal mining threatens forest habitats across the world,” said Neumann. “The scale of the threat, however, is far greater than we’ve calculated due to the dearth of information worldwide about coal mining.”



Most recent publications

Climate Action in the Land Sector: Treading carefully

This policy brief explains how and why Post-Paris climate negotiations can and should build effective climate action, without threatening human rights and natural ecosystems.

Arctic Limits: How Finland’s forest policies threaten the Sámi and the climate

Finland is a test case in the fight against climate change. As the world edges closer to breaching the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees, forests have become increasingly important in discussions around how to battle climate change. Yet accounting for emissions from the forests sector is devilishly complex and riddled with loopholes.

PDF iconArctic Limits_Final.pdf1.77 MB

Blog: Analysis of draft LULUCF reports

By Hannah Mowat

The recently-published draft reports of the Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) regulation give an indication of which direction the different committees’ rapporteurs would like to take the file. Here we offer a quick overview of the main highlights and lowlights:

Climate and the Sámi people threatened as Finland attempts to hide its forest emissions

Finland’s industrial logging is already threatening the climate and its indigenous Sámi people, and yet last year the Finnish government confirmed its intention to increase harvesting the country’s forests by

PDF iconFinland PR_final.pdf481.6 KB

Biofuels are not a way to decarbonise aviation

This letter to Commissioner Bulc explains why NGOs are concerned about his statement that “Biofuels are the ‘best choice’ at this point to start to decarbonize the industry”. Relying on large-scale biofuel cultivation leads to more environmental damage. The only way Europe’s aviation policy can help meet Paris Agreement goals is to focus on reducing demand.

Fern’s response to the draft Effort Sharing Regulation Rapporteur’s report

This press release outlines why Fern believes the Effort Sharing Regulation Rapporteur's draft report on greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States improves the Commission’s Effort Sharing Regulation proposal, and why it should go further.

PDF iconESR rapporteur report_final.pdf346.3 KB