Burning wood for power ‘breaches EU treaty’

It ain’t easy being green.

Campaigners are seeking to stop the EU counting wood as a renewable energy source, in a lawsuit which has been filed at the Court of Justice.

Plaintiffs from six European countries and the US argue that burning biomass for heat and power is a false solution to climate change. The EU Renewable Energy Directive promotes logging of ancient forests, according to the brief, contravening the bloc’s higher principles and individuals’ rights.

The suit challenges a major plank of efforts to generate 32 percent of EU energy from renewable sources by 2030. Nearly two thirds of EU renewables come from various forms of bioenergy, with more projects in planning.

Carbon sinks

We are burning up our forest carbon sink and injecting it into the atmosphere,” said Mary Booth, lead science advisor to the case and president of the US-based Partnership for Policy Integrity.

“There is forest biomass being shipped thousands of miles to meet biomass demand in the EU. We think that needs to stop.”

At the point where it is burned, wood emits more carbon dioxide than coal. However, the EU treats wood burning as carbon neutral, on the basis trees will grow back, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air.

A spokesperson for the European Commission climate change division would not comment on the legal merits of the case.

The commission’s policy framework aimed to guarantee “sustainable development of bioenergy, while at the same time enhancing the role of land and forests as carbon sinks,” she said.


That was endorsed by member states and the European Parliament when they adopted the directive last year.

Carbon accounting of forest management has long been fraught with controversy, as scientists like Booth warn it does not reflect the true climate impact. Instead of being harvested, she said in a press call, trees should be allowed to mature and store carbon.

The plaintiffs will also raise concerns about damage to biodiversity, cultural heritage and human health in their regions. These range from the deterioration of peat bogs in Ireland to threats to Estonia’s pagan religious traditions.

From a legal perspective, counsel Peter Lockley explained, the case needed to demonstrate the renewables directive clashes with higher law –  enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – in a way that directly concerned individuals.

Green Icebergs

Scientists May Soon Solve Century-Old Mystery of Green Icebergs

Most icebergs appear white or blue when floating in seawater, but since the early 1900s explorers and sailors have reported seeing peculiar green icebergs in certain parts of Antarctica.

The strange green icebergs have always baffled scientists, but now a new study suggests iron oxides in rock dust from Antarctica’s mainland are turning some icebergs green.

According to the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceansmarine ice varies in color due to the “abundance of foreign constituents in the seawater,” particularly iron-oxide materials. Researchers formulated the theory after they detected “large amounts of iron” during a 2016 research trip to the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica.

“Previously, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) had been proposed to be responsible for the green color,” authors Stephen Warren, Collin Roesler, Richard Brandt, and Mark Curran explained in the paper. “Subsequent measurements of low DOC values in green icebergs, together with the recent finding of large concentrations of iron in marine ice from the Amery Ice Shelf, suggest that the color of green icebergs is caused more by iron‐oxide minerals than by DOC.”

Iron is a key nutrient for phytoplankton, microscopic plants that form the base of the marine food web. But iron is scarce in many areas of the ocean. If the researchers’ theory is confirmed, it would mean green icebergs are ferrying precious iron from Antarctica’s mainland to the open sea when they break off, providing this key nutrient to the organisms that support nearly all marine life.

“It’s like taking a package to the post office,” Warren, a glaciologist at the University of Washington and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “The iceberg can deliver this iron out into the ocean far away, and then melt and deliver it to the phytoplankton that can use it as a nutrient.”

Warren had been studying the green iceberg phenomenon since 1988. He analyzed samples taken from a green iceberg near the Amery Ice Shelf and found they were not made from regular glacier ice, but from marine ice, which is ocean water frozen to the underside of an overhanging ice shelf.

Seawater sometimes freezes to the underside of ice shelves, creating a layer of what’s called marine ice. (Credit: AGU)

When an oceanographer testing an ice core from Amery Ice Shelf found marine ice near the bottom of the core had nearly 500 times more iron than the glacial ice above, Warren began to suspect iron oxides in the marine ice could be turning blue ice green.

Warren believes iron oxides in “glacial flour,” a powder created when glaciers grind against bedrock, from rocks on Antarctica’s mainland are responsible for creating the stunning emerald icebergs. He now wants to to sample icebergs of different colors for their iron content and light-reflecting properties (icebergs are usually blue in color, because the ice absorbs more red light than blue light).

If their theory proves correct, green icebergs could be more important than scientists thought.

Are energy efficient homes making us ILL?

Are energy efficient homes making us ILL?


“Energy efficient buildings are an important part of tackling the world’s energy crisis.

But while these structures can keep draughts out, they also have a hidden threat lurking within.

Deep within their crevices and corners, green buildings are susceptible to trapping humid air in which toxic mould can spread.”


Personally, I’ve been there, done that, got the T-Shirt and nearly died.