All posts filed under: bioeconomy debate

New Study: The potential of forests to supply the European bioeconomy.

An increasing number of industries are committing to transition to a bioeconomy, to replace everything from cotton to plastic to concrete with biomass alternatives. They are supported by a European policy environment that is encouraging this shift. But what does this mean for forests? Fern and denkhausbremen commissioned a report to give an overview of current and projected levels of EU wood production; uses and impacts on forests, the climate and biodiversity: ‘Stemming the Tide – the potential of forests to supply the European bioeconomy’. Although forecasting is a difficult exercise as the amount of wood that a forest can supply depends on the rate of climate change and responses to it across the economy, the findings were clear: multiple policies are increasing demand for wood for a range of sectors, which is increasing production (harvesting) as well as imports of tropical fibres. As a result, forests are absorbing and storing less and less carbon dioxide, making it harder to meet climate commitments. Increasing the European bioeconomy without reducing consumption would be a disaster. Policies …

When biocapitalism unpacks the chainsaw

Environmental organizations warn against an expansion of the so-called bioeconomy at Forest Movement Europe gathering As always, it was a meeting in the forest for the forest. The annual top meeting of environmental organizations and forest activists, hosted this time by the Polish organization Workshop for All Beings in Białowieża in northeastern Poland, one focus was on a growing concern of the European environmental movement: The threat to forests posed by the bioeconomy. Apart from its roles in climate regulation, biodiversity, and water balance, the forest is expected to become a significant source of raw materials for the future economy. Wood is already used as an energy source, in the paper industry, and as a construction material. In the future, it could also replace oil, gas or coal in the production of cola bottles, tar for road surfaces, and serve as a raw material in the chemical industry. This potential expansion raises the possibility of extensive deforestation if the aspirations of the forestry industry and bioeconomy strategists come true. Consequently, denkhausbremen, along with project partners …

Consequences of the Ukraine war for the bioeconomy

Consequences of the Ukraine war for world food supply: German government must rethink bioeconomy Download position paper as PDF here! The Ukraine war is causing immeasurable suffering: Civilians are being displaced or even killed. The fighting soldiers also suffer trauma, torture and death under the cruelty of war. Beyond this horror, the war once again exposes failures of the world food system and further increases the chronic global crisis of hunger. Most affected are states and people in the Global South who have lost food sovereignty. For the world‘s 828 million hungry, it becomes evident once again that global supply chains are not designed to feed them. These developments clearly show how hunger is further exacerbated when agricultural commodities are made scarce and expensive by nervous markets. An industrialized countries’ shift from a fossil-based economy to a bioeconomy would result in similar negative effects, if the industrial agricultural system and our resource overconsumption remain unchanged. Wealthy countries as well as transnational corporations would buy all they can to keep their „green“ economy going. The German …

Study on the bioeconomy in neighboring European countries

What is actually going on in the bioeconomy debate at EU level and in our neighboring European countries? And how do our colleagues from the environmental and development associations assess the respective national discussions on the bioeconomy? This is the subject of the short study “Shaping Bioeconomy Strategies in Europe: The Role of Civil Society”. In it, author Wolfgang Kuhlmann, commissioned by the Bioeconomy Action Forum, describes the main European policy processes and highlights the debate in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Italy, France and the Netherlands. The focus here is particularly on the role of civil society. Even if the paper does not claim to be exhaustive, it does show one thing: Looking beyond the German horizon provides fresh impetus. Click here to download Summary of the Study The EU Bioeconomy Strategy stresses the role of bio-based products as alter- natives to fossil-fuel counterparts, and their importance in developing a sustain- able economy based on renewable materials in Europe. It encourages member states to develop national bioeconomy strategies or equivalent policies that enhance the cooperation between …

Alternative Bioeconomy Summit

Far more than 100 experts from civil society, ministries, federal agencies and academia had dialed in to the Alternative Bioeconomy Summit on February 23, when Silvia Bender, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), opened the event with her keynote address: “How much bioeconomy can our globe cope?” is exactly the right question, she believes. In addition, Bender warned not to repeat the mistakes of the so-called energy transition in the bioeconomy and, above all, to ensure that fewer primary raw materials are used in the future. It is about saving resources and not about ‘business as usual’! This provided the framework for this online summit. “How should a future bioeconomy be organised within planetary boundaries?” was accordingly also the key question for the high-level panels and working groups. For the future it is crucial not to get lost in abstract debates. The bioeconomy must be regulated with concrete and effective instruments. Panelists (from top left to bottom right): – Silvia Bender, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and …

Bioeconomy exhibition “On the wrong track” officially opened

Cover photo: Ana Rodríguez On Wednesday, December 8th, 2021 the photo exhibition “On the wrong track – Overexploitation of Humans and Nature for the Bioeconomy” was opened at the Institut français Bremen. At the beginning of the evening, the audience had the opportunity to take a first look at the exhibition. Afterwards, the program began in the large hall of the Institut français. denkhausbremen project manager Jana Otten gave an introduction to the topic of bioeconomy and explained the background of the exhibition to the audience. According to this, the production of renewable natural resources is not sustainable per se and often linked to human rights violations and environmental destruction in the Global South. In a video message, the tropical forest activist Sylvain Angerand from the French organization Canopée, reported on a French success story: In France, palm oil in so-called biofuels has been legally banned since 2020. Fenna Otten, tropical forest officer of Robin Wood, then gave insights into her research trips to Sumatra and highlighted, among other things, the devastating environmental impacts of …

The forest in the bio-capitalism

By Peter Gerhardt The forest has always been more than the sum of its trees. It is familiar with being a place of longing and a habitat, to deliver firewood and construction material and at the same time to fulfill all the important ecological functions. Our requirements have already put this ecosystem under tremendous pressure and in many places around the world have contributed to the fact that the forests are exhausted or have been destroyed. Regardless, now the forest should also protect humanity from a possible climate collapse and serve as a raw material storage for the economy of the future – the so-called bioeconomy. This cannot go well. But let’s start at the beginning. At this year’s UN climate summit in Glasgow, the political leaders surpassed themselves in a kind of outbidding competition to determine which country wants to save most of their forests from deforestation in the name of climate protection. At the same time, generous reforestation initiatives were promised. A total of 137 governments, whose nations are home to over 90% …

Forests under pressure: why the bioeconomy threatens our ecosystems

By Peter Gerhardt The fossil era is coming to an end. Mankind will increasingly have to rely on renewable raw materials. The term bioeconomy has become established for this economy fed by biological resources. Forests get under pressure: their wood is considered to play a decisive role in the supply of raw materials for the bio-based future. Yet, the forest ecosystems are already being exhausted by the global demand for wood for fuel, construction material, electricity production or pulp for paper production. The natural limits of our planet are progressively entering the core of the political debate: Climate change is moving millions of people around the globe. With regard to the global climate, Brazil’s burning rainforests have long since ceased to be a national issue; they are also an issue for the global community. Even the dwindling biodiversity has arrived in the mainstream and the »Save the bees!« referendum is mobilizing 1.8 million voters in the state of Bavaria. At the same time, large parts of the population are propelled by unrestrained market forces, leading …

Six reasons why eco-labels are not a good idea for the bioeconomy

By Peter Gerhardt They exist for wood, paper, palm oil or cod: sustainability labels. All too often, these have been launched with great fanfare for a better world, only to realise soberly soon after that overexploitation and environmental destruction simply continue. This could be due to the fact that many of these voluntary certification initiatives have a few fundamental flaws built in. The hope is that politics, business and associations will learn from past mistakes and question eco-labels with scepticism. This is particularly true with regard to the current bioeconomy debate, regarding the transformation of our economy from fossil to biological. Here, too, the call for eco-certificates is getting louder. Already today, the planet is exhausted by the biomass we demand from it: This leads to overfished oceans for Captain Iglo and destroyed rainforests for three-euro chicken. If fossil raw materials are to be completely replaced by biomass in the future, the question consequently arises on which earth this biomass should grow on, or which environmental crimes or human rights violations we might want to …

Biodiversity at risk

A study by denkhausbremen and BUND examines the possible impacts of the bioeconomy. Bioeconomy could become a catalyst for the already dramatic extinction of species if no immediate and consistent action is taken to reverse the trend. This is the disturbing conclusion of the study “Bioeconomy in the Light of Planetary Boundaries and Biodiversity Conservation” published today, in which denkhausbremen and BUND focus on the impacts of the bioeconomy on biodiversity conservation. The two authors – Dr Joachim Spangenberg (BUND) and Wolfgang Kuhlmann (denkhausbremen) – summarise the main scientific findings on the poor conservation status of many species and ecosystems in Germany. In particular, industrial agriculture is a major driver of species extinction. Furthermore, the non-ecologic management of many forest ecosystems is detrimental to biodiversity. The study also provides a detailed insight into the current status of biomass use in Germany and derives possible opportunities and risks for a future bioeconomy. The sobering conclusion: replacing fossil raw materials with biomass is not an option – at least if raw material consumption is not drastically reduced. …