THOSE GREEN EUROPEANS – You know, don’t you, how Europe is the big shining light (powered by renewable energy only, of course) for the environmentalists the world over, especially those struggling in the unenlightened, fossil fuels-obsessed Anglo countries? The Europeans show how you can be rich and clean and green at the same time; they point the way towards the exciting future where we let the old liquefied dinosaurs rest in peace in the ground and instead power our lives and our economy with sun, wind, water and other natural phenomena like unicorn rainbows.
Protected forests are being indiscriminately felled across Europe to meet the EUâ€™s renewable energy targets, according to an investigation by the conservation group Birdlife.
Up to 65% of Europeâ€™s renewable output currently comes from bioenergy, involving fuels such as wood pellets and chips, rather than wind and solar power.
Bioenergy fuel is supposed to be harvested from residue such as forest waste but, under current legislation, European bioenergy plants do not have to produce evidence that their wood products have been sustainably sourced.
Birdlife found logging taking place in conservation zones such as Poloniny national park in eastern Slovakia and in Italian riverside forests around Emilia-Romagna, where it said it had been falsely presented as flood-risk mitigation.
OK, so that’s an environmental group making claims about forest and you might be sceptical and wonder if they are perhaps being a bit panicky. Well, putting the issue of endangered forests aside, here is the EconomistÂ on the main point:
In its various forms, from sticks to pellets to sawdust, wood (or to use its fashionable name, biomass) accounts for about half of Europeâ€™s renewable-energy consumption. In some countries, such as Poland and Finland, wood meets more than 80% of renewable-energy demand. Even in Germany, home of the Energiewende (energy transformation) which has poured huge subsidies into wind and solar power, 38% of non-fossil fuel consumption comes from the stuff. After years in which European governments have boasted about their high-tech, low-carbon energy revolution, the main beneficiary seems to be the favoured fuel of pre-industrial societies.
That’s right, folks; people on the right often joke how the hard greens would like to deindustrialise the world and send us back to the Stone Age, but the green religion actually is driving Europe back into the energy Middle Ages. I’m all for renewable and alternative energy, but the way to get there is not through ridiculous targets and heavy subsidies but through financing and supporting scientific and technological research and development, which will actually in the future deliver solar power – andÂ maybe hydrogen power and cold fusion power – that is as cheap if not cheaper than coal and gas.