Bioenergy’s promise was to be renewable, clean energy from organic matter that keeps on growing, an alternative to fossil fuels. But it has also turned into land grabs, increases in food prices, forest destruction and a waste of public money.
As research and science have started to question the environmental consequences and even the climate impacts of increased extraction of ‘biomass’ from our fields and forests to meet our energy needs, many have started to recognize that maybe some uses of bioenergy can be problematic. Maybe it’s not all perfect after all.
But surely these are rather exceptions to the rule. Or at least these must be problems taking place in third world countries where there’s not adequate rule of law. At least here at home in Europe bioenergy is still doing well.
The documentary film The Burning Issue takes you on journey through the endless maize fields of Germany, clear cut boreal forests of Russia, expanding rapeseed fields of Romania and maltreated old coppice forests in Italy. It documents the impacts of good intentions gone wrong right in our backyards.
It makes you – and rightly so – ask whether we are really solving a problem with bioenergy or whether we are rather contributing to the already persistent problems intensive agriculture run by agribusinesses, forestry depleting biodiversity, deforestation and waste of valuable resources.
After the first 100 new biogas plants have been built in small rural area in Northern Italy and after many of the local farmers have gotten a new publicly supported income, it’s easy to lose sight of the original problem that we’re trying to deal with – reducing emissions and fighting climate change.
The other, brighter side of the coin is however that if our efforts and public policies to fight climate change have managed to create such a strong and impactful new industry, with better designed public policies we can also change the way this industry operates.
The Burning Issue documentary film is a call for action. Come and hear it and see with your own eyes why is this action needed.
The Burning Issue is a documentary co-produced by BirdLife Europe and Central Asia and Transport & Environment.