2021-04-22 20:14News

Mundus Nordic Green News – 22 April, 2021

Mundus Nordic Green News

Uproar amongst Finnish and Swedish forest industry over taxonomy

What was first painted as a concession from the Commission to Finland and Sweden over their forest interests has not landed well in the Nordic countries. Far from alleviating the concerns of biofuels stakeholders, one clean energy stakeholder described the latest proposal “as a disaster”. And on the other side of the argument, nature NGOs such as WWF said that they were suspending their participation in the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance Platform in protest against what they see as weak and “unscientific” criteria. In short, the latest proposal appears to appease neither side.

As we reported yesterday, forest biomass has been classified as sustainable in the latest proposal, which means that it is acceptable to burnt it in power stations,  generating electricity and steam for heating. Although the power constituency will likely be satisfied, plans have been afoot for over a decade to build completely new liquid biofuels industries, using biomass as a feedstock. While this is sustainable in theory under the taxonomy, that designation is practically useless, as vehicles must be zero emissions from 2025. In practice, only hydrogen and battery vehicles can proceed. For those who have been patiently planning their projects, this could be the end of the road.

The biofuels industry immediately found its voice. In Sweden, Svebio came out guns blazing, talking of “beautiful words” by assorted politicians, and insinuating that Biden’s proposals were politically expedient, talking up jobs and down carbon taxes. Svebio appears to be arguing the opposite of the traditional complaint “who stole my cheese”, and rather pointing out that outsiders are forcing Sweden to sit on the cheese. Capisce? Their point is that for other countries it is easier to say that the Nordics should not harvest forests than to make carbon reductions at home. Svebio therefore calls for Sweden to vote against the Commission’s proposal.

Other Swedish biofuels stakeholders echo similar concerns. Sweden also has a small bioethanol and biodiesel industry, and the CEO of Bil Sweden (Swedish Car) declares it unfortunate that products that compete with agriculture are not sustainable. Another stakeholder, Johan G Andersson, CEO of Drivkraft Sverige (Powertrain Sweden) said "By 2030, according to the Union's own calculations, the EU will have a fleet of around 10% electric vehicles and 90% vehicles with internal combustion engines. If we do not favor the production of biofuels, these vehicles will have to run on fossil fuels. There are almost 300 million vehicles that will need to run on old fossil technology instead ".

Jakob Lagercrantz, CEO of the 2030 Secretariat, an NGO that describes its mission as a coalition of the willing to decarbonize the transport sector, says that "The EU taxonomy steers the transport sector back towards a fossil economy. It is a disaster."

Volvo Trucks is more careful, Lars Mårtensson, Head of Environment and Innovation, said “We also believe in electrification and aim for half of the trucks we sell to run on electricity by 2030, but biofuels and continuing to make the trucks more fuel efficient will continue to be important for many years to come,” before going on to observe that while the Commission’s proposal had some good points, Volvo found much missing. (Svebio, Dagens Industri, Dagens Industri)

In Finland, the situation was stated even more bluntly. According to Timo Jaatinen, CEO of the Finnish Forest Industries Association, Finland should oppose the adoption of the EU's sustainable financing criteria, and find sufficient allies to defeat it, sending the whole thing back to the drawing room. This statement is also supported by the Federation of Agricultural and Forestry Producers. (Verkkouutiset, Kauppalehti)

Meanwhile, WWF protests against both the greenwashing of the forestry and bioenergy criteria in the climate taxonomy, and the process that led to these criteria,” it said in a statement. Other green NGOs have also decided to leave the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance Platform. Sébastien Godinot, an economist from WWF said “The Commission’s final taxonomy on forestry and bioenergy does not acknowledge the environmental challenges we face. It has been strongly influenced by unbalanced lobbying by Finland and Sweden: it is at odds with environmental science, discredits the taxonomy and creates a disastrous precedent.”

Greta Thunberg testifies to US Congress

Greta Thunberg was harsh in her criticism as she testified on Thursday in a hearing on fossil fuels and the climate crisis in the US Congress. She said “The simple and uncomfortable fact is that if we are to live up to our promises and commitments in the Paris Agreement, we must abolish fossil fuel subsidies. Either you do this, or you will have to explain to your children and those who are most affected why you give up on the 1.5-degree goal - give up without even trying.” She then seemed to answer her own point. “To be honest, I do not think for a second that you will do this. The climate crisis does not exist in the public debate today and therefore you will still get away with contributing to the destruction of current and future living conditions.” (Dagens Nyheter)

Danish wave energy company wants to commercialize technology in the Canary Islands

Wavepiston will roll out the company's patented technology on islands and isolated coastal communities within 3 years. The Danish company has already started testing on Gran Canaria and is aiming to be profitable within 5 years. (Energiwatch)

Ørsted and the UN are pushing for green reporting

More companies need to report on their green efforts based on a science-based approach. This is the ambition of a new Global Compact program, of which Ørsted is the main sponsor. (Borsen)


About Nordic Green News

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.