Consensus statement for genuine and effective Feed-In Tariffs and other Renewable Energy subsidies

We the undersigned declare that using renewable energy funds for burning plastic is a harmful distortion of renewable energy standards and a threat to our health and climate. We call for integrity in standards for renewable energy incentives and an end to all feed-in tariffs for the burning of plastic and other waste.

Feed-in tariffs and other renewable energy incentives were developed to support low-carbon, healthy sources of energy around the world, like wind and solar power. Burning or heating plastics for energy is the equivalent of burning a fossil fuel, and the opposite of renewable energy. Almost all plastics are derived from oil, gas, or coal, and burning them releases pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Waste incineration in all its forms (including gasification and pyrolysis) is extremely expensive, as it requires complex emissions mitigation systems. The use of climate funding for these projects is a massive step backward for climate progress. In fact, U.S. government data has shown that so-called “waste to energy” systems are the most expensive way to generate energy, and also one of the most greenhouse gas intensive.

In addition, burning plastic and other wastes releases dangerous substances such as heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, and other toxics into the air. These pollutants cause environmental injustices and contribute to asthma, cancer, endocrine disruption, and the global burden of disease.

We are deeply concerned by the promotion of feed-in-tariffs and other renewable energy subsidies for gasification, incineration, and the use of plastics as fuel, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. Compost, reuse, repair, and recycling all conserve more energy than can be created by any form of waste incineration, and avoid the associated toxic byproducts. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and redesign products to use less plastics, not set up new polluting systems to burn them.

Climate change gives us no time to waste on polluting schemes posing as renewable energy. If we are to avert disaster, we must ensure that all climate funding goes to real solutions.

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