EU bioenergy policy debate heating up

14 September 2016

Just weeks before the expected 30 November launch of the European Commission’s ‘Winter Package’ on climate and energy policies a group of 11 NGOs, including Fern have launched a paper with recommendations for a new EU sustainable bioenergy policy. The package will include proposals for a renewable energy policy and a sustainability policy for bioenergy for the period 2020-2030.

The NGOs recommendations are based on the fact that there is limited land and biomass available. They explain that unrestricted use of biomass for energy runs counter to EU objectives to halt deforestation and biodiversity loss, to enhance resource efficiency, to achieve sustainable development and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Recent European Commission studies (see end of article) have confirmed that EU policies which aim to increase production of bioenergy can lead to trade-offs with these objectives.

Recommendations include setting a limit on the amount of bioenergy that can be counted towards the EU renewable energy target. The NGOs propose adopting comprehensive sustainability criteria such as prohibiting the use of biomass from protected areas, agricultural crops and roundwood; ensuring that biomass is used only in the most efficient energy installations; and protecting the rights of affected people.

The NGO paper shows why the EU can’t rely on existing policy tools such as LULUCFand Sustainable Forest Management standards to ensure bioenergy is genuinely low-carbon and sustainably produced.

The recent European Commission studies include:

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