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Scientists raise the alarm over recent EU climate policy proposals

Almost 200 climate, forestry and environmental scientists, including many from Finland and Sweden, have sent an open letter to the Council and the European Parliament to express their “grave concern over the scientific basis of political developments on the LULUCF Regulation and sustainability criteria for biomass in the Renewable Energy Directive”.

The scientists made clear that increased harvesting levels for forest biomass have a negative impact on the climate, and that it may take decades – even centuries – for carbon stocks to be restored by regrowth (‘pay-back time’). They warn that “bioenergy is not carbon neutral and can have serious negative climate impacts”. The scientists urge the EU to adopt policies that prevent the use of biomass feedstocks with lengthy pay-back times (such as roundwood), arguing that these will undermine the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to well below 2˚C.

Concerning the LULUCF Regulation, the scientists warn against encouraging increased harvest levels for biomass to replace fossil fuels without accounting for their full climate impacts. A growing body of evidence suggests that the proposed LULUCF regulation will prove counterproductive. They urge EU policy makers to maintain and increase the EU forest sink.

This letter is a strong signal to policymakers that EU climate strategy must enhance forests’ potential to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. EU renewable energy policy and the LULUCF compromise agreed in the Council do the opposite.