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No forest overexploitation for a flawed energy transition

Joint statement by German environmental and development associations on wood biomass Download the statement as a pdf here Forests are irreplaceable for the protection of biodiversity and our climate, they form the basis of life for people, animals and plants. Nevertheless, the global forest ecosystems are threatened. There are many reasons for this – from illegal logging to the expansion of agricultural land to the high demand for raw materials in the paper and pulp industry. As a result, forests are cleared, overexploited or converted into timber plantations with few species. Now the forests are also coming under pressure in the name of climate protection. One reason for this is the wrong decision by the EU to classify the combustion of wood as climate-neutral. This gives the EU member states the opportunity to subsidize wood biomass for electricity and heat production as a climate protection measure. There is a danger that the energetic use of wood biomass will continue to be promoted on a large scale in Germany. The federal government wants to bring the …

European Green Deal – no landing on the moon

The European Green Deal and the EU bioeconomy strategy avoid necessary system changes By Jana Otten and Peter Gerhardt At times of aggravating global crises, new answers are required. The international community is increasingly divided into rich and poor, environmental degradation – including the loss of biodiversity – is accelerating and the earth is heating up further. The so-called “European Green Deal” provides an answer to the climate crisis – at least as far as the pompous promise of the EU Commission can be trusted. However, does this European Green Deal really give us reason to heave a sigh of relief? Are the vociferous calls of the climate movement and climate science for a  reduction in emissions finally being translated into political concepts? And what role does the bioeconomy play, which envisions an ecological-social transformation of the economy, too? About nine months ago, on December 11, 2019, the European Green Deal was presented in big words in Brussels. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen was bursting with superlatives and spoke of a historic moment …

Photo exhibition shows Environmental Destruction and Human Rights Violations for the Bioeconomy

Cover photo: Peter Steudtner / Mozambique Coordination Group The bioeconomy has so far been a niche debate that essentially has its place in scientific and political circles. To the general public, however, the term is largely unknown. That is why a photo exhibition by denkhausbremen clarifies what the bioeconomy is about and shows possible consequences for the countries of the Global South. The stakes are high: the bioeconomy involves nothing less than the transformation of our economy. Coal, natural gas and oil are to be left in the ground. Accordingly, the economic system of the future is to be based solely on biomass, which means renewable resources. Ultimately, the great promise of the bioeconomy is to counteract climate change and the extinction of species. As nice as the bioeconomy sounds in theory, it has not yet been clarified, for example, how the high demand for biomass is to be met, especially since the land area for the additional cultivation of renewable resources is limited worldwide. Politicians and researchers are mainly looking in the direction of …

Mission implementation plan – Bioeconomy Council is on its way

The newly appointed Bioeconomy Council is to support the German government with expertise in the phase-out of the fossil economy. The success of this change also depends on the Council’s commitment to a socio-ecological transformation. All good things come in threes. To what extent this proverb applies to the Bioeconomy Council, which is now being launched in its third edition, remains to be seen. In December 2020, the Federal Government appointed the council for three years, composed of a total of twenty scientists and associations representatives. New this time is that the ministries for the environment and development cooperation, among others, were actively involved in the appointment of the council members. Accordingly, the round of experts is now more diverse, recruited from the biotech lobby all the way to the environmental movement. In contrast to the past, this is a clear step forward: until now, the Council was the domain of more technology-friendly departments and therefore not a haven for ecological and justice issues. In this respect, it is hardly surprising how biased the previous …

Impulses for the Bioeconomy Council

Position paper for pdf download here! The bioeconomy can only contribute to a sustainable future if our economy is put to the test and undergoes a comprehensive socio-ecological transformation. The Bioeconomy Council should therefore advocate for clear policy frameworks and guard rails within which the bioeconomy can be shaped sustainably. Due to the expected enormous demand for biomass, an indefinitely growing bioeconomy can become an additional threat to global ecosystems and the people who live on them. Already today, planetary boundaries have been exceeded in essential areas. In addition to the climate crisis and the massive change in land use, the loss of biodiversity and genetic diversity as well as the overloading of the phosphorus and nitrogen cycles show an excess that can destroy our livelihoods. Consequently, the bioeconomy also needs clearly defined growth limits to ensure economic activity within planetary boundaries. A realistic picture of the potentials should guide the implementation of the bioeconomy. Aspects related to the common good, such as food security, water availability, biodiversity and climate protection, as well as access …

Online congress: How much bioeconomy can our planet cope with?

Alternative Bioeconomy Summit (online), February 23, 2022 What has to be on the agenda of the new federal government, to design a socially just and ecologically sustainable economy of the future ? Again and again, salvation has been promised by bioeconomy – an economic system operating with biological resources. Though, farmland, forests and oceans can supply a limited amount of biomass only, and most ecosystems are already under enormous pressure. Now and then, the production of agricultural goods in the Global South is obtained at the cost of serious human rights violations, while in Germany an increasing social division is threatening social peace. Not an easy starting point for developing the economy of the future. Ultimately, the often-cited planetary boundaries must become the cast for practical policies without neglecting the fair distribution of natural resources. Experts from environmental and development organizations, politics, science and specialist authorities come together at this Bioeconomy Action Forum Online Summit to define guardrails for a sustainable future. Please use the following link to register : https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtc-qvrDMqH9buU-jfLKlTrFPWW1ySE-dm Event with impulses from, …

Bioeconomy: cutting back expectations

In terms of quantity, fossil fuels can not be entirely substituted  by renewable resources. A sustainable bioeconomy requires systemic transformations of the economy that is currently growth-oriented. The first conference of the “Bioeconomy in the Light of Sustainability” project, funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and carried out by denkhausbremen in cooperation with BUND, took place on September 7th and 10th, 2020. In addition to representatives of the relevant environmental and development organisations, experts from science, specialist authorities and politics also took part. They discussed the status quo of agriculture and forestry with regard to the preservation of biodiversity and possible raw material potentials for a future bioeconomy. Ute Feit from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation made it clear that biodiversity has so far been insufficiently addressed in bioeconomy discussions. At the same time, conflicts of goals resulting from different demands on the available land – such as biomass production, climate protection and biodiversity conservation – were also addressed and discussed. In the first keynote, Joachim Spangenberg (BUND) and Wolfgang Kuhlmann (denkhausbremen) …

Best Practice: Pioneers of a Sustainable Bioeconomy?

The possibilities that the bioeconomy can provide, become visible in the practical applications. However, in order to contribute to a socio-ecological transformation, the revision of the policy framework for bioeconomy uses is needed. At the second conference of the project “Bioeconomy in the Light of Sustainability”, which took place on November 10th and 12th, 2020, everything revolved around examples from bioeconomy practice. To what extent can companies and research projects as pioneers contribute to the success of the bioeconomy in the context of a socio-ecological transformation – and where do they run the risk of being mere green washers of a non-sustainable economy focused on growth ? Participants from environmental and development organisations, scientific institutes and specialised authorities explored this question. The current state of the world’s ecosystems is very worrying. Arable land and forests are constantly overexploited and biodiversity is rapidly dwindling. According to the World Biodiversity Council IPBES, industrial land use is the main driver of the current species extinction. In the context of the bioeconomy, the conference intensively discussed the possible contribution …

May 27, 2021 – Workshop Bioplastics – Opportunities and Risks

The agenda (pdf) for download here Plant-based plastics are among the practical applications of the bioeconomy that have already successfully entered the market. There are different interpretations concerning the evaluation of the sustainability of bioplastics.. Are plastics made from biological resources an important contribution to overcoming the fossil age or does the potential demand for raw materials of a plant-based plastics industry threaten global ecosystems? This question will be explored by the speakers and participants of the workshop. Online workshop of the Bioeconomy Action Forum, May 27, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 10.00 am Peter Gerhardt and Jonas Daldrup (denkhausbremen): Welcome 10:10 a.m. Philipp Sommer: Bioplastics – Solution or Dead End? Philipp Sommer is an expert on circular economy at Deutsche Umwelthilfe. 10.30 a.m. Christoph Lauwigi: Bioplastics from the BUND’s perspective Christoph Lauwigi is the spokesman for the Waste and Resources working group at BUND. 10.45 a.m. Constance Ißbrücker: Bioplastics and their importance for the Circular Economy Constance Ißbrücker is Head of Environmental Affairs at the European Bioplastics Industry Association. 11:05 a.m. Discussion …

Limits to Growth for the Bioeconomy

Press memo: Bremen, April 16, 2021 Environmental and development associations are giving the German Bioeconomy Council a paper with their demands on the way The newly appointed Bioeconomy Council should impose a consistent socio-ecological transformation of the economy on the German government. This is what the environmental and development organisations involved in the Bioeconomy Action Forum are demanding in view of the Bioeconomy Council meeting next week on April 19 and 20, 2021. The key points for a socially just and ecologically sustainable bioeconomy are explained by the associations in their joint declaration “Impulses for the Bioeconomy Council”, which was handed over to the Council members in the run-up to the meeting. The environmental and development organizations demand, among other things, that the interests of nature, resource and climate protection be enforced in biomass production, that genetic engineering be effectively regulated and that biomass imports be restricted. In addition, the NGOs continue, food security and human rights should not be further jeopardised in the course of the bioeconomy, research funding should set new priorities, and …