2021-04-28 19:25News

28 April, 2021

Mundus Nordic Green News

EU researchers' data on forestry were seriously incorrect"

In an increasingly polarized and politicised atmosphere surrounding forestry, two Swedish experts have heavily criticized the scientific basis and political conclusions of a scientific study published in Nature, that has had a major effect on the EU policy debate. The article "Abrupt increase in harvested forest area over Europe after 2015", was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in July 2020. The authors were affiliated with the European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) in Ispra, Italy. Based on interpretations of satellite images, they claimed that the proportion of forests harvested annually had increased by as much as 49% during the period 2016–2018 compared with 2011–2015. According to the study, the largest changes took place in Sweden and Finland, where the annually felled area was said to increase by 36% and 56%, respectively.

But Swedish experts, Peter Högberg, Professor of Forest Soil Science, and Jonas Fridman, Senior Environmental Analyst, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet), cast doubt on the scientific methods used in the JRC study, the sense checks to calibrate conclusions [that were evidently not used by the reviewers or the researchers] and the context that the article was placed in within the political debate.

While the authors of the JRC study believed that the felled area in Sweden increased by 36% during the study period, national field inventories showed that it decreased by 8%. Other data, such as the volume of wood traded and the number of people employed in the sector contradict the size of the increase found by JRC. “The most serious [scientific] criticism, which could explain how JRC ended up as wrong as it did … was due to the fact that satellite image interpretation improved significantly during the period studied.” The SLU experts say that “if a change is to be measured, the sensitivity of the method must not change over time.”

In conclusion, the SLU experts say that “the alleged increase in the bioeconomy would have required an improbably rapid expansion of the capacity for deforestation, transport and industrial management… Science must never compromise on the requirements of rigour … If researchers move in the direction of participating in political processes on terms other than the purely scientific ones, science loses its value.” (Dagens Nyheter)

Journalists critical of Environment Minister’s claim to have participated in Biden climate summit

On Monday we reported that Per Bolund, Sweden’s Environment Minister, had been invited to kick off the second day of the Leader’s Summit. Swedish journalists are now calling the exercise a PR stunt, where Bolund was allowed to talk at a pre-meeting. (Expressen)

Gasum opens the first biogas plant in Sweden to produce liquid biogas from process water from a pulp mill

A pioneering biogas plant in Nymölla, Sweden, is the result of a partnership between the energy company Gasum and the supplier of renewable materials Stora Enso. By converting process water from Stora Enso's pulp and paper mill in Nymölla to liquid biogas (LBG), the plant will produce renewable fuel for road transport, industry and the shipping sector, an amount that corresponds to the fuel consumption for 200 trucks. This collaboration in the circular economy is the first of its kind in Sweden. The total investment in Nymölla amounts to almost SEK 320 million, and Gasum is investing SEK 270 million in the project, Stora Enso SEK 50 million and an additional SEK 121.5 million in the form of a grant from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, via the "Klimatklivet" initiative. The facility, which has been built and operated by Gasum, will open on April 27, 2021, and the inauguration will be attended by Sweden's Minister of the Environment and Climate and Deputy City Minister Per Bolund.

Johanna Lamminen, Gasum's CEO said that she is not worried about the effects of the taxonomy, "Our understanding is that the taxonomy is favorable for this type of investment in biogas… "The demand for renewable gas is so strong that the taxonomy in this situation is not a threat to our business or the opportunities to make it profitable." (press release, Dagens Industri)

ABB plans to spin out its electric car charging division

ABB has transformed what the company calls "e-mobility operations" into its own division and initiated a spin-off of this into a separate legal structure, in preparation for a stock market listing. The division had revenues of $220 million in 2020. (Dagens Industri)

What we’re reading
  • Recovery plan: France invests € 50 billion in climate change (Dagens Industri)


Topics: Biofuels

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The Nordic countries are some of the most dynamic and successful economies in the world. They are also leaders in sustainability, from renewable energy, biofuels, carbon capture and storage and the hydrogen economy, circular economy business models and battery development, the Nordics are pioneers in policy design, technology development and consumer uptake. Mundus Nordic Green News is covering this transition for the international community. Every day we clip the stories of most relevance to international businesspeople and policy experts from the flow of news. We supplement these with our own opinion pieces and commentary, in English.