The European Peat and Growing Media Association is proud to announce the upcoming event “Peatlands - A New Conversation”. The conference, to be held over 7-11 June in Tullamore, will provide an international forum for the on-going debate on the challenges, opportunities and the way forward for the peat industry.
Hosted by the Irish Peat Society, the event will be opened by two key note speakers, both specialists in international and local issues affecting peat land management. The event will then incorporate a “hands on” approach to knowledge by incorporating visits to peat land sites and a series of masterclasses on key topics, such as developing peat certification systems and engaging the public in peat land education programmes. Finally, each day of the conference will culminate in tailored 'fireside' discussions to allow for dialogue on key issues in a relaxed setting. The key objective is to enable each participant to challenge their own thinking by learning from others and to advance a mutual understanding of the issues.
More information on the programme can be found on the official event website of the Irish Peat Society: http://www.irishpeatsociety.ie/programme/
The Irish Peat Society welcomes you to Tullamore in June 2015.
The struggling EU economy and the Ukraine-Russia gas dispute are not temporary issues. Many EU countries still suffer from unemployment and gas disputes remain a chronic threat to the European energy system and its entire economic development.
One crisis after another, the European Union has been trying to manage the inherent instability fuelled by the increasing energy dependence on a single external supplier. Two figures are revealing: the European Union imports more than 50% of its energy at a cost of around 400 billion Euros. Costly and politically risky, the EU needs to re-think its energy policy immediately. Greater energy self-sufficiency would also be a way to provide more job opportunities and support national economies.
The peat industry we represent is fully aware of the challenges that the EU energy system is facing. EU’s electricity prices are high and industrial competitiveness is at stake. Energy poverty is a constant risk for both consumers and industries. Europe has no time to spare and its leaders need to implement a coherent and security-of-supply driven policy in a well-integrated internal energy market.
Launched by the European Commission’s Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in February 2015, the Energy Union Package should be considered as a real game changer to address these challenges and build a strong and domestic-driven energy policy for and by European citizens and industries. The Energy Union needs however to better assess energy needs including urban, rural and industrial demand. It also has to enhance Member States’ policies to promote local indigenous energy sources. Flexibility to define and choose energy sources at the national level should continue to be the guiding principle and main pillar of the Energy Union.
For instance, Finland underlined in its Energy Union position paper in the energy security discussion, that Finland emphasises the use of biomass and the impact of advanced biofuels on the improvement of energy security as native sources of energy, cost efficiency and competitiveness in energy efficiency as well as the significance of peat as domestic fuel that can be utilised regionally.
Within this context, EPAGMA Energy companies are continuously seeking to make a significant contribution to EU energy objectives. Our industry has the experience and determination to provide affordable indigenous energy sources that secures supply for more than 2 million EU citizens in important cities and rural areas. Moreover, energy-peat is an example of decentralised energy production in countries such as Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the Baltics region where the amount of domestic resources is limited.
We welcome several action points put forward in the Energy Union Package. We strongly believe that regional cooperation coupled with clear support from the European Commission can facilitate further internal market integration by adapting to regional energy needs, in line with the subsidiarity principle.
The years ahead will not be easy. The solution to address our most important challenges is however in our hands – in the EU itself. We need to be ready to use our own resources, think local, and develop a long term regulatory framework to enhance security of supply and competitiveness.
Coordinator of the Energy from Peatland Sector Group
For more information about EPAGMA Energy from Peatland: please visit our website http://www.epagma.eu/energy
14 November 2014
In 2004, EPAGMA was established by a few more or less unexperienced companies trying to understand the importance of the European Union, its decision-making process and the single market on peat and growing media companies all over Europe. Ten years later, the organisation represents 17 member companies and 9 associate members based in 15 European countries, with operations in all 28 Member States of the European Union. The agenda of the organisation has expanded considerably and now includes the single market, harmonisation of growing media, organic farming and energy security. In addition, EPAGMA has made the sustainable development of the industry an absolute priority.
To celebrate these achievements, look back on 10 years of constructive dialogue with policymakers and focus on actions for the next years, EPAGMA welcomed over 65 stakeholders in the European Parliament on Wednesday 12 November. The anniversary event was hosted by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, MEP Mairead McGuinness. In her closing remarks, MEP McGuinness called upon the industry to continue investing in improving its sustainability and provide policymakers with timely solutions.
The event also featured presentations by MEP Norbert Lins, Gaspard Demur (DG Energy) and Eric Liégeois (DG Growth) from the European Commission who complemented speakers from the peat and growing media industry.
- The first session touched upon the need to create and implement EU-wide rules for products through the harmonisation of the growing media legislation. A topic that has been part of the industry’s DNA for years. EPAGMA welcomed the European Commission’s work towards a common legislative framework and expressed its support for a swift adoption of the legislation.
- The second session featured a discussion on organic farming. A solid organic farming legal framework is essential for the industry to ensure transparency to consumers. The European Parliament is starting its work on the revision of the legislation and EPAGMA told MEP Nobert Lins that the European Union needs to remove obstacles to the sustainable development of organic production and guarantee fair competition for farmers and operators by allowing the internal market to function more efficiently and to enhance a real level playing field.
- The third session covered the role of local and indigenous energy sources in the European Union. EPAGMA Vice-Chair Tomi Yli-Kyyny told the audience that “the EU needs to find the right balance between secure, competitive and clean energy while avoiding further energy price increases and diminish Europe’s energy dependency on energy imports”. EPAGMA’s Vice-Chair went further to remind the audience that the energy peat industry only uses 0.34% of the total peatland areas in the EU and that peat is crucial to avoid fuel poverty in some of the most remote regions of the EU.
- The final session focused on sustainability and the progress that the industry to date and the commitments EPAGMA has set for the next few years. EPAGMA’s Chair of the Executive Board, Pat Fitzgerald announced the publication of EPAGMA’s Energy Peat Transparency Policy and reminded stakeholders that on growing media, EPAGMA members commit to continue their support for the establishment of a certification scheme for Responsibly Produced Peat (RPP) for growing media with the aim of certifying the first peat production sites by the latest in 2015 and set targets for increasing the number of peat production sites certified in the beginning of 2016.
In conclusion, EPAGMA would like to thank MEP Mairead McGuinness who has made it possible to celebrate EPAGMA’s 10th anniversary in the powerhouse of the European Union. We also extend our gratitude to all the other speakers and participants and hope to see you all again very soon!