Use gas and plant trees rather than burn wood, says Urgenda founder


The founder of the Urgenda climate movement, which won a landmark court case to force the government to cut pollution, has added her voice to the campaign against the use of biomass.

‘To put it crudely, it is better to use gas and plant trees than use biomass and cut down trees,’ Marjan Minnesma told radio programme Dit is de Dag. Gas, she said, creates half the pollution that burning biomass does.

Biomass, she said, is a complicated issue because there are so many different kinds and there is nothing the matter with creating fuel or energy from burning vegetable matter and the remains of trees.

However, burning wood itself is not the answer because it takes too long to grow new trees, she said. ‘If you think we only have 10 years left [to stop the temperature rising], then trees take too long to grow back.’

Instead, she said, the government should focus on scaling up solar and wind power, and schemes to use the earth’s own heat. And gas should continue to be used to generate power, on a temporary basis.

Economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes said again last week that biomass continues to have an important role in meeting the government’s climate change targets. However, he said, he will soon publish a list of requirements which biomass will have to meet to be really considered green.

Two government parties – D66 and ChristenUnie – have already called for an end to subsidies for new biomass power plants.

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