Sunday 04 December 2022

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.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.