Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 5th July 2019
Concerns that Ireland could meet its renewable energy targets by propping up Estonia’s oil shale industry with biomass co-firing
Friends of the Irish Environment have urged Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton to ensure that Ireland does not purchase credits from Estonian co-firing of wood in oil shale power stations in order to meet our renewable energy target. 
Environmental campaigners in Estonia are deeply concerned that Irish government could end up purchasing Renewable Energy Credits from future co-firing of wood in the country’s three oil-shale fired power stations, which are responsible for 90% of Estonia’s CO2 emissions and make it the EU’s top greenhouse gas emitter per capita after Luxembourg.
Doing so would throw a lifeline to the polluting oil shale industry which is struggling to survive in the face of rising CO2 prices. It would prevent Estonia from having to transition to a cleaner, low-carbon energy system. It would also speed up the destruction of Estonia’s forests which are being logged much muster than they can regrow. 
According to an Open Letter signed by Estonian Fund for Nature and Forest Aid Estonia:
“If other EU member states were to purchase renewable energy credits from cofired biomass from Estonian oil shale plants, they would evade investing in truly renewable, low-carbon energy and instead help subsidise both forest destruction and one of the most polluting fossil fuel industries in Europe.” 
Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment states: “For Ireland to meets its renewable energy targets in a way that props up one of the dirtiest fossil fuel industries in the world and accelerates the destruction of European forests should be unthinkable. The Government must take urgent steps to prevent such a scenario from happening.”
Friends of the Irish Environment points out that, even if Ireland did decide to purchase Renewable Energy Credits from Estonia, it could insist on an exclusion clause to prevent them from coming from co-firing of wood with oil shale, something agreed between Luxembourg and Estonia.
Friends of the Irish Environment: Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771 / 353 (0)87 2176316
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852
Letter to Minister
 Ireland will be required to make up its shortfall in 2020 renewable energy targets through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits, known as statistical transfer auctions. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in November 2017 projected that we will achieve between 12.7% and 13.9% of our 16% renewable energy target by 2020. The shortfall will be purchased at statistical transfer auctions overseen by the European Commission.
 Estonia has exceeded its renewable energy target, largely through biomass burning for heat, despite the fact that more than 80% of its own electricity is generated from oil shale burning. The sale of Renewable Energy credits from co-firing with oil shale would reduce the amount of carbon tax paid or the oil shale plants as well as directly subsidising the state-owned energy company that operates those power stations.
 The Nature Conservation Commission of the Estonian Academy of Sciences has warned: “Today's forest management as a whole is unsustainable in its present trend, does not guarantee biodiversity conservation, takes little account of ecosystem services and therefore needs to change.” The Estonian Environmental Agency has estimated that the sustainable limit for logging would be 8.5 million m3 a year (https://www.envir.ee/sites/default/files/loppraport_2050.pdf) – a figure criticised as too high by independent experts. In 2018, the logging volume was a record 12.5 million m3 (https://www.err.ee/933157/mullu-raiuti-eestis-rekordiliselt-metsa).
Union of Concerned Scientists: https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/clean-fuels/what-is-oil-shale.
Oil shale mining in Estonia: https://earthjustice.org/cases/2016/oil-shale-plan-threatens-massive-climate-pollution.
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