The European Parliament has today voted to approve a cap on the use of first generation biofuels, those from land-based crops. This cap places an important restriction on the use of a form of energy that can put wildlife at risk and in some cases be more polluting than the conventional fuels it is designed to replace.
The RSPB has been working on biofuels for a number of years because of the threat they pose to wildlife and the evidence that Indirect Land Use Change can result in large, unaccounted for greenhouse gas emissions.
This cap sends a strong signal that there is no future for the worst of all biofuels.
But the job is not done, and bioenergy more widely is increasingly being used across the EU to provide heat and electricity. In the UK, for example, Drax power station imported around four million tonnes of wood pellets last year, gathered from forests in the Southeastern US, to burn for energy.
Ten NGOs, including BirdLife, have today launched a series of recommendations for a sustainable biomass policy for the EU’s post-2020 climate and energy plans.
Among the recommendations are:
- Properly accounting for all emissions from biomass. The EU and the UK Government currently don’t require accounting of the emissions caused by burning biomass, including trees. In many cases these emissions could make biomass worse than the fossil fuels they’re designed to replace.
- Placing a cap on the amount of biomass that can be burned in line with the available sustainable supply.
- Ensuring strict and binding sustainability criteria for biomass. This would ensure that where biomass is grown or harvested it is done so in a manner that doesn’t harm wildlife or natural ecosystems.
The full report goes into more detail, and if you want to read it you can find it here.
On the drive to work this morning I saw my first terns of the year; common terns I suspect although they were too far and facing away from us to pin them down to a particular species. But I still got a rush of excitement nonetheless.
The last three weeks or so have been a whirlwind of vaguely remembered birdsong and unusual silhouettes – swallows flapping overhead and bees (or bombus, the scientific name, as I prefer to call them) buzzing past me. My garden and the green opposite my house have been full of a succession of butterflies – first brimstones, commas and peacocks, then small whites and now, in the past week, orange tips too.
Comma butterfly, photo by Matt Adam Williams
Spring is an exhilarating time of year, when everything feels like it’s in a rush to get somewhere or find something or someone.
But beneath the hurried pace of birds shuttling twigs to the hedgerows and bees and butterflies seeking out nectar and pollen, slower, deeper rhythms are at play. Climate change is affecting not just Spring but all of our seasons. Recent results released by the Woodland Trust show that warmer Springs are affecting acorn crops and potentially reducing the numbers of new oak trees.
This is just one among many observed and possible effects of climate change on Spring and its wildlife.
I don’t want to see our wildlife negatively affected by climate change. So on 17 June I’ll be joining with the rest of The Climate Coalition to head to London and Speak Up for wildlife and all the other things I love that could be affected. I’ll be heading there to speak to my new MP and explain what I love and why I want them to take positive action on climate change at the UN conference in Paris in December, and over the course of the next Parliament.
If the wildlife you’re seeing this Spring is invigorating your love for nature or inspiring you to take action, you could do little better than sign up to come along too on 17 June.
Spring is definitely in full swing and it has been putting us in a distinctly festival and creative mood. But much of our best loved wildlife, including Spring migrants, could be affected by climate change.
For the last year, we’ve been working with our friends at The Climate Coalition to speak up about climate change. On Valentine’s Day we helped to Show the love for the things we wanted to protect from climate change.
Now the countdown begins and there are just two months to go until Speak Up For The Love Of. This will be the largest ever climate lobby of Parliament.
On 17 June ten thousand people will head to Westminster to tell the new Government loud and clear that we all care about something that will be affected by climate change. As they start out on a new parliament and prepare for crucial UN climate talks in Paris in December this is a great opportunity to get our message across.
We need MPs to act on their promises and take the necessary steps to help us reach a low carbon future that will be better for wildlife and people.
For more information and to sign up, head here.
There’s not long to go, so we’re getting ready and putting our creative energy to good use by making bunting that will help to give the day a festival feel.
If you’d like some help making your bunting, we’ve put together a handy set of instructions that you can follow:
1. Get hold of some old material: unwanted clothes, fairtrade cotton or anything you can get your hands on.
2. Cut out triangles using the template shape below, or if you’re feeling adventurous make your own bigger triangles. But it works best if the triangles are all of the same size and if they’re isosceles.
3. Write a message about what you want to protect from climate change – be creative and decorate as many flags as you can.
4. Join together with others in your family, school or community to create your string of bunting. Sew or attach the flags onto a long piece of material or ribbon, leaving gaps half as wide as the flags (For super neat bunting you can use bias binding instead of ribbon and fold it over the top of the flags).
Why not try:
- knitting or crocheting your bunting?
- having a bunting party?
- making your bunting out of something that represents your area (like a sports strip or tartan)?
- getting your workplace, community or sports team together to decorate a flag?
Whether you’re coming or not, you can get involved by making some bunting and sending us a photo of your preparations. You could tweet us your photo (@Natures_Voice) using #bunting and #speakup.
Like us, you will be able to use your bunting to engage with your MP on the day and speak about the things you love.
And if you can’t make it along on the day, use the power of the internet to find someone near you who’ll be coming on 17 June, and give it to them to bring along. It will go to good use decorating the lobby venue and the stage for the rally, and showing MPs that thousands of people care about climate change and its effects on wildlife and people.