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Covered in smoke: why burning biomass threatens European health

Tens of thousands of EU citizens are dying prematurely every year as a result of exposure to air pollution from burning solid biomass, mainly wood, to provide heat and electricity.

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.
PDF icon Full report489.12 KB
PDF icon Report summary310.81 KB

How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? Focus on forests

In September 2015, world governments adopted an Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. The aims are noble and daunting – end all forms of poverty, fight inequality, address climate change, and ensure that no one is left behind.

PDF icon Focus on forests.pdf401.04 KB

Burning trees for energy is no solution to climate change

This briefing note outlines why using wood to produce renewable electricity and heat can increase carbon dioxide emissions. It explains what is wrong with the assumption that all biomass use for energy is ‘carbon-neutral’ and why the increasing scale at which biomass is used can reduce forests’ ability to be a sink for carbon.

A new sustainable bioenergy policy

The European Commission has announced that it will propose a new and improved bioenergy sustainability policy for the use of biomass in heating, electricity and transport as part of its Climate and Energy Package for 2030.

Why LULUCF cannot ensure that bioenergy reduces emissions

The European Commission is currently reviewing the sustainability of uses and sources of bioenergy for the period after 2020. They will also propose a new policy on how to include the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector in the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework. This briefing note presents the problems of relying on LULUCF to ensure bioenergy reduces carbon emissions.

The most crucial challenges facing Europe’s forests

This short briefing outlines BirdLife, European Environmental Bureau and FERN recommendations for the Parliament’s own initiative report on the EU Forest Strategy.

Driving to destruction

This study analyses the likely impacts on land use and greenhouse gas emissions of biofuel use by 2020, as projected in recently published National Renewable Energy Action Plans in 23 EU member states. The analysis includes evidence on size and impacts of ‘indirect land use change’ (ILUC) resulting from biofuel use.

PDF icon ILUC-NAPs Briefing.pdf379.25 KB

Increased use of biomass: recommendations for ensuring it is environmentally responsible and socially just

Biomass has always been an important source of energy, but whether it is a renewable source depends on many issues including how it is produced. As the EU renewable energy targets will give biomass use for energy purposes a significant boost, there is a need for an ambitious set of criteria guaranteeing that biomass is effectively contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases without leading to negative environmental and social impacts.