26th April 2023 – Yesterday and today, coinciding with Vattenfall’s AGM, banner protests against the company’s investment in and expansion of wood bioenergy have been held at the site of a proposed new biomass plant in Diemen, Netherlands, outside Vattenfall’s offices in Berlin and Brussels, and outside the company’s AGM itself, in Solna, Sweden.
Campaigners are calling on Vattenfall to immediately cancel its plans for new wood bioenergy capacity, to abandon its wood pellet and wood chips trading activities and to rapidly phase out all of its coal, gas, biomass and waste burning and replace it with non-emissive renewable energy and investments in energy conservation. They also want Vattenfall to sell its heat network and plant in Berlin to the City at low cost, to bring heat production back under democratic control.
At the same time, climate and forest campaigners around the world have been tweeting #Vattenfail images in support of these protests at Vattenfall.
In Berlin, nine environmental organisations came together in front of the Vattenfall headquarter to protest the continued use of fossil fuels and Vattenfall’s plans to increase wood burning by 500%. They also demanded that Vattenfall sell its assets back to the city at a reasonable price. Lisa Kadel from BürgerBegehren Klimaschutz says:
15,185 citizens agree with us in our petition: Vattenfall’s heating network must be sold back to the City of Berlin. This will allow us to tackle the urgent municipal planning processes through which we will achieve climate-neutral heating and finally leave coal, gas, oil and wood behind us.
In Diemen the Clean Air Committee is holding a protest by the gates of the Vattenfall gas plant which feeds into Amsterdam‘s heat network. Fenna Swart from the Clean Air Committee says:
Vattenfall wants to build the largest dedicated biomass plant in the Netherlands on this site. We have been protesting against it for four years now. We are challenging the nature permit for the plant in the Council of State. Nobody wants this biomass plant which will exacerbate the climate and biodiversity crises. We take Anna Borg, CEO of Vattenfall, at her word; she stated that Vattenfall would not build a biomass plant that nobody wants. This is very much the case in the Netherlands. Not only are 98% of all Dutch citizens against biomass burning, but the Social and Economic Council advised the government to stop all biomass subsidies as soon as possible. The Dutch Climate minister acted accordingly and abolished new biomass subsidies for all new biomass projects last year. We now call him to stop the existing ones, too, which account for 85% of the total.
Vattenfall prevents young climate activists from attending its annual general meeting:
In Sweden, Climate Activists from Friday’s For Future Stockholm had signed up to attend the Annual General Meeting of Vattenfall. Vattenfall’s Notice to Attend the AGM says:
The Annual General Meeting is open to the general public. In connection with the Meeting, a Question & Answer session will be arranged, in which the general public will have the opportunity to ask questions to the company’s management.
But Vattenfall have reached out and told them that not all who want to attend are welcome:
A state-owned company, which we all own together, is excluding young people from its annual meeting when they question its harmful climate policies. Vattenfall contributes towards both increased emissions and a destruction of carbon sinks. This exclusion of concerned young people shows once again how the system protects business as usual, rather than treating this crisis as a crisis.Agnes Hjortsberg, Friday’s For Future Stockholm
Lina Burnelius from the NGO Protect the Forest Sweden adds:
I will be asking them why they have a goal of becoming only ‘fossil free’ – and not to lower their emissions. I will also ask why they have decided to spend tax-paying citizens’ money on greenwashing instead of starting the much-needed energy transition that the climate crisis urgently requires of us.
In Brussels, Martin Pigeon, Forests & Climate campaigner with Fern, an NGO defending forests and the rights of people depending on them, said:
Vattenfall has been lobbying in Brussels against any meaningful reform of the EU’s biomass rules, which currently reward energy companies for burning forests in the middle of a climate and biodiversity crisis. This short-sighted and irresponsible campaign was partly successful thanks to the Swedish government abusing its role as the current Presidency of the EU Council. We demand that Vattenfall stops investing in forest destruction and greenwashing such destruction.
Open letter to Vattenfall: biofuelwatch.org.uk/2023/open-letter-to-vattenfall-23/
Background briefing about vattenfall’s biomass investments and plans: biofuelwatch.org.uk/2022/vattenfall-biomass-briefing/