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Discussion Pros and Cons

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The contributions to this website describe the many complex issues that need to be considered in this project. Specifically the sustainability - and thus (possible) effects in every respect - also for the future - are particularly examined. State Secretary Michael Pollmann said: “The pre-condition for this (for the export to take place) is that the social and ecological balance sheet is correct across the entire supply chain. As much added value as possible should remain in Namibia and as many people as possible should benefit from it locally.” Under this premise, the entire project will be examined open-ended by many experts.

Biomasse-Tag 2019 in Otjiwarongo, Namibia

Pros and Cons

Namibia

As Namibia has suffered massively and increasingly from bush encroachment of productive savannah for decades, diverse countermeasures are supported. A sustainable thinning of bush encroached rangeland is associated with high local added value through products, both for local and international markets. It is therefore endorsed by government as well as leading environmental organizations, associations and farmers.

The government makes, for example, provision for sustainable land use through frameworks and guidelines (National Policy and Strategy for Sustainable Rangeland Management). Bush control guidelines are an integral part of this agricultural strategy. Possible risks of the selective bush harvesting are comprehensively discussed by the actors, with the involvement of decision-makers, experts and civil society.

Sustainable bush control is an important part of the National Development Plan for 2017-2022 (NDP5) of Namibia.

Namibia's climate policy is expressed by the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions 2015, Paris). Beside others, the restoration of 15 million hectares of grassland shall be Namibia's contribution to international climate protection.

The policy field of bush control falls within the remit of the Namibian Ministry for Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, which is represented by the National Director Forestry in Working Group 1 of the BUKEA project.

The Namibian Embassy in Berlin is actively supporting the project. In addition to a letter to Hamburg's First Mayor, Peter Tschentscher, the Ambassador himself has already met twice with State Secretary Möller (Senate Chancellery) and focused on this topic. The embassy also participates in the conferences of Working Group 1.

The Namibian Biomass Industry Group N-BIG is one of the initiators of the partnership, was a member of the delegation that visited Hamburg in 2019 and participates in all three working groups. In the course of the German Wood Energy Congress, a cooperation agreement between N-BIG and the German Federal Association of Bioenergy e. V. (BBE) was signed.

In addition to many other stakeholders, N-BIG is involved in the website https://www.dasnamibia.org, too, which is a national information platform and contact point for questions - amongst others - relating to bush encroachment, - thinning and – value addition.

The state-owned Namibian electricity supplier NamPower is currently planning a 40 MW biomass power plant in which wood chips will be used to generate electricity. The pure generation costs are more expensive than that of wind and photovoltaic systems that are also planned, but advantageous / necessary for the base load. NamPower had also commissioned a study which showed high micro- and macroeconomic benefits of such a biomass plant. Two employees from NamPower participated in the October conference of WG 1 as experts, explained NamPower's strategic plans and emphasized that in Namibia at most 1 - 2 more biomass power plants of this size can be expected in the future, as solar energy and wind energy allow for more economical power generation facilities.. In this respect, they also see no resource competition through biomass exports in the future.

The Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) is an umbrella organization which, according to its own website, offers a forum and a mouthpiece for the broader environment sector. In its own statement, they welcome the open-ended review process and state that a biomass partnership may have ecological benefits for rangelands in Namibia, create jobs and new value chains and represent a means against climate change.

The non-governmental organization Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) also supports the partnership and the chairman was in Germany as part of the Namibian delegation in 2019 and January 2020. In a press release from February 2021, the NNF - in response to the below-mentioned open letter from Robin Wood - clarifies factual context and opinions in Namibia on the subject of bush encroachment. Members of NNF are also regular participants in WG 1.

In Namibia the NGO "Earthlife Namibia" has spoken out against the partnership by signing the statement of the Hamburger Energietisch (see below).

Germany / Hamburg

From the beginning it was openly discussed that such a project could have far-reaching impact on ecology, economy and politics and that, therefore, many critical points are to be considered. The approval of the city of Hamburg or the municipal company Wärme Hamburg GmbH should therefore depend on the cooperation being sustainable in every respect - be it ecological, socio-economic or state-political. Under these conditions, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed and the explicitly open-ended discussions in three working groups were

by the Department of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture (BUKEA).

The Federal Government of Germany has been supporting Namibia in its efforts to address bush encroachment since 2014 through a commission from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In the current commission (2018-2021) to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, an improved use of bush biomass from controlled bush harvest is to be promoted in cooperation with the Namibian Ministry for Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT). International markets should also be taken into account.

Wärme Hamburg GmbH is involved in the project to examine whether bush biomass from Namibia could be an alternative energy source to provide heat for the district heating network as a replacement for coal combustion. The possibilities for using domestic biomass or waste wood are also being examined in this context.

With a similar intention individuals from Hamburg Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs: “Tschüss Kohle”, Zukunftsrat Hamburg) were involved in the project from the beginning. At an early stage, a working group was formed outside the authority, consisting of representatives from various NGOs who are active in the fields of ecology, climate protection, development cooperation and social affairs. They question the project critically, have held several independent conferences since then, obtained information, established their own contacts in Namibia and two of them are regularly involved in the working groups organized by BUKEA. They also organized three public digital conferences for information and discussion on this project.

The University of Applied Sciences (HAW), Department of Environmental Technology Bergedorf, was also involved in the project from the beginning, as the partnership also offers scientific exchange and support, with the aim of refining the biomass on site in Namibia and thus generating the highest possible local added value.

The environmental foundation WWF Germany has been dealing with charcoal from Namibia for several years. In 2019, the foundation entered into a collaboration with the company DHG and through its logo supports the distribution of charcoal made from Namibian bushwood. According to information on the WWF website, “the majority of Namibian production facilities for Nambuko® barbecue charcoal are already certified according to the demanding ecological and social standards FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) and “The use of bushwood as the raw material for the production of barbecue charcoal is not only obtained from the species-rich savannah landscape, but also from agriculturally usable pastures. In this way, it makes an important contribution to sustainable development. "

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has developed a national standard for forest and bush management in Namibia with representatives from environmental, social and economic interest groups. Namibias nachhaltige Glut

Since 2017, the area certified by the FSC for the production of charcoal in Namibia has increased eightfold from 200,000 hectares to over 1.6 million hectares of savanna land. 

The charcoal produced there has also been sold for some time via the German discounter ALDI Nord and ALDI SÜD. The discounter recently received the “Sustainability Heroes Awards” in the “Kategorie „Soziales Engagement“ for its support to Namibia and the supporting cooperation with the FSC.

The BUND-Hamburg is critical of the project. He refused to take part in one of the working groups and justified this on his website: “… Hamburg's cultural and historical responsibility towards Namibia must not be interpreted to mean that Hamburg is misusing the former German colony as a pure raw material supplier for the local hunger for energy. Rather, the city should support Namibia, which has been dependent on electricity imports for well over 50 percent in the last few years, in converting its own supply to renewable energies or in using Bush biomass more for CO2-storing products such as building materials. "

The Hamburger Energietisch (HET) spoke out clearly and early against the project. Several studies were published on their website, which stated that the use of bush biomass would overall lead to very high CO2 emissions and would destroy jobs in Namibia. These  statements, which are in clear contrast to the calculations of the IfaS (see "CO2 balance" and "Bushwood processing ..") were, however, based on different land use strategies than those planned in the project. The HET has published these statements throughout Germany and also in Namibia and signed together with  a number of organizations a Joint Statement against the project in October 2020. 

The Action Group “Robin Wood” wrote an open letter to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Dr. Gerd Müller, criticizing the project. In its response, the BMZ rejects the criticism. The NNF from Namibia also presented the situation in Namibia differently in a press release (see above).


Themenübersicht auf hamburg.de

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