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Bioenergy

Fern’s aim is to limit the EU’s industrial use of wood for energy

Fern’s analysis: Whilst the need to reduce fossil fuel use is clear, some alternatives, such as large scale biomass use can be as bad for the environment, the climate and people. Wood has always been an important source of energy, for local and traditional uses, but in recent years ‘biomass’ has been promoted by the EU on a large industrial scale as a ‘renewable energy source’. This has put an increasing pressure on forests and people in Europe and globally.

The EU is presently considering how it can meet a new target of having at least 27 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2030. Great caution will need to be applied if biomass is to be considered as part of that energy mix. Forests have an important climate function, and wood is a scarce natural resource which emits greenhouse gas emissions when burned for energy. This negative effect is not matched by the climate benefits that the biomass sector claims. Plus, partly because of a lack of EU rules, the sourcing, production and use of biomass currently cause negative environmental and social impacts.

The present EU renewable energy policy drives demands for wood, in an era where land and forests are already under pressure by increasing hunger for natural resources for the production of food and materials. If the EU is to meet its aim of halting deforestation by 2030, it cannot continue to subsidise demand for yet another commodity that drives deforestation: biomass.

What Fern is doing: Fern investigates the impacts of biomass use in Europe and globally, and explores ways how EU policies should respond to the concerns associated with biomass production and use. Fern promotes civil society dialogue on how to achieve a socially and environmentally sustainable EU climate and energy policy.

To learn more about this campaign: the best documents to read are "Burning Matter", "Biomass Report shows increasing lack of policy coherence on forest protection", "Increased use of biomass: recommendations for ensuring it is environmentally responsible and socially just", "Volunteering for disaster: why biomass criteria must be ambitious and legally binding" and "Woody Biomass for Energy: NGO Concerns and Recommendations".

 

Most recent publications

EU’s Environment Committee recognises role of forests in fighting climate change but fails on bioenergy

The European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee today voted to increase removals of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by forests from 2030 onwards, recognising the important role that EU fore

What impact has the Renewable Energy Directive had on EU forests?

The EU Renewable Energy Directive was launched in 2009 to great fanfare and the promise that the EU would fulfil at least 20 per cent of its total energy needs with renewables. Few could have guessed that
a policy intended to help the EU meet climate goals would lead to vast increases in the burning of wood, degrading forests in Europe and beyond.
 
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One step forward, two steps back for EU on climate and forests

Today, the European Parliament took one step forward and two steps back for the climate and forests.

Read the full Press Release

On a positive front, the Environment Committee voted to strengthen the EU’s climate target for the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) - which covers the agriculture, waste, buildings and transport sectors - by reducing the amount of ‘LULUCF offsets’ they had access to by 90 million tons of CO2.

Ensuring bioenergy comes clean in the Clean Energy Package - Joint Statement

European climate and energy policies are built on the myth that all bioenergy - being a renewable energy source - is good for the climate and good for the environment.

Celebrating forests by burning them is the wrong road, say 46 NGOs

The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has chosen to use the International Day of Forests 2017 to promote the use of wood for energy, calling forests “nature’s power house”. Forests are precious ecosystems and well worth of celebrating, but the chosen theme of the day is unfortunate as growing demand for wood based bioenergy has serious negative impacts on environment, local communities, people’s health, the climate and, of course, our forests.

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