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In the two decades since the state-controlled economies of the old Soviet bloc have been opened up to market forces, environmental considerations have struggled to compete with the need to create jobs and production. Romania joined the EU in 2007 and therefore has to adhere to EU environmental rules, but environmental groups are alarmed that domestic energy policy is becoming heavily weighted towards bioenergy that passes for clean energy but has considerable side-effects.
The EcoAlmanac, a yearbook of in-depth journalism, looks at the broad effect of biomass and other bioenergies. It has a collection of original chapters that discuss or investigate land transactions and biofuels, biomass and forest exploitation, and other similar topics.
Raul Cazan of 2Celsius says: ‘In the recently liberalised Romanian land market, land has been used to produce biofuels with their land-use change effects, or for the massive exploitation of biomass. Big agroindustry businesses are presenting these energy sources as clean and good for the environment, and with business magazines accepting this and promoting “great development opportunities”, the public has no information to question this.
‘That’s why our EcoAlmanac is trying to present the alternative picture. Industry and households need greener energy, but the authorities have granted green certificates for energy produced from forest biomass, even if the production process endangers wildlife or the welfare of local communities. We’re trying to show that destroying forests in the name of progress and clean energy is a failure of responsible government, as it will endanger thousands of species and deny future generations the right to a healthy environment.’
2Celsius is critical of both the Romanian government and the European Commission for allowing certain things to happen that it says should be illegal. A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency says half the wood from Romanian forests is logged illegally, causing the country €5billion in lost revenue and tax receipts in the past two decades, and 2Celsius highlights dubious links between biofuels and state subsidies for energy crops.