Tag Archives: nature

Mongabay: As EU finalizes renewable energy plan, forest advocates condemn biomass

Wood chips piled in mounds more than 6 meters (20 feet) high cover the lot of an Enviva wood pellet plant in Ahoskie, North Carolina. Enviva claims it uses wood waste and doesn’t use large whole trees in the making of its wood pellets and that it only accepts wood from sites that will be replanted with trees — greenwashing that was discounted this week by a whistleblower who worked for Enviva and also confirmed by a Mongabay onsite investigation. Image by Justin Catanoso for Mongabay.

As I was preparing my exclusive whistleblower story, a commentary was released in the journal Nature that sought to weigh in on the late-stage negotiations in the European Union on its Renewable Energy Directive (RED) as it applied to biomass harvest and burning. The headline pretty much summed up the message: EU climate plan boosts bioenergy but sacrifices carbon storage storage and biodiversity.

I interviewed the lead author, Tim Searchinger of Princeton, sought comments from sources in The Netherlands and Germany regarding the state of the negotiations, got one German member of parliament to answer a few questions without attribution, and layered in context regarding European politics and bioenergy industry lobbying.

The result: this story that updates readers on the state of RED negotiations and the latest scientific arguments for limiting biomass harvest and burning, and eliminating billions in subsidies. A reference to my whistleblower story fit into the story as well.

UN’s Ban Ki-moon: “This is no Plan B because there is no planet B”

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This Monday afternoon, Dec. 7, 2016, on the first day of the final week of the 21st UN climate summit, I slipped into a press conference just as Ban Ki-moon,  the UN general secretary, was answering a question of great interest to me — the intersection of faith and climate change. Here’s what he said:

“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for his clear moral leadership on this issue with the document he released in June (the papal encyclical Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home). I have spoken with him about this and greatly appreciate his efforts in support of the environment.

“It’s important to realize that climate change has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with humanity. We have to show some wisdom. Not just wisdom, but common sense. We have to live harmoniously with nature. Nature does not negotiate with human beings. We have to adjust to nature. That’s our only choice.

“We have to do what science tells us. Climate change is caused by human behavior. It only follows that humans have to change their behavior. As you know, we don’t hear many skeptics any longer. Even so, faith leaders have a role to play in convincing the remaining skeptics that climate change is real, and with faith leaders, we must all act and work as one.

“We have only one planet. There is no Plan B because there is no planet B.”