In April 2018, representatives from the international forest movement gathered in Estonia to discuss the protection of forests and peoples’ rights. While there, they learned about the serious threats to Estonia’s forests.
One significant threat to forests is a planned biorefinery close to Tartu, in the east of the country. The biorefinery would use a quarter of Estonia’s annual wood production (approximately 3.3 million m3 of wood), and the impact on the environment is immense: between 2001 and 2015, 285,000 hectares of the country’s forests were lost, despite warnings from the Estonian Academy of Sciences that the logging was compromising healthy and resilient ecosystems. For example, habitat for several birds and the flying squirrel, a species protected by the EU Habitats Directive, decreased significantly.
While the national government continues to ignore local resistance against the biorefinery project, the international forest movement published a statement supporting the people of Tartu in their fight to have it stopped.
The expansion of the biorefinery and other ongoing projects in Estonia are a perfect example of how the EU’s renewable energy directive (RED) can backfire. The EU allows its Member States to subsidise the production of energy from wood, and Estonia has taken this seriously: between 2009 (introduction of the RED) and 2016, renewable energy production from wood grew by more than 65 per cent, accompanied by an ominous increase in logging. This has also negatively affected Estonian forests’ role in mitigating climate change: between 2005 and 2030, it is projected that the country’s forests will turn from a sink into a source of emissions. Currently, Estonia already harvests 90 per cent of its annual forest growth.
Estonia plans to ‘trade’ a surplus of its renewable energy with other EU countries. But the EU should be warned that this comes at the expense of a considerable forest and climate deficit.
Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight.
His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.
And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles.
Canada has essentially quit recording bright sunshine hours. What a tragedy.
Environment Canada And Climate Change (I can’t believe they changed the name to that!) has dropped the ball. One exception is the Saskatchewan Research Council. They collect sunshine data at two locations.
This is the November data for Saskatoon.
November 2018 had 54.7 hours of Bright Sunshine.
20.7% of the 1981-2010 normal of 97 hours of bright sunshine.