The European Commission has stated that, “climate action is at the heart of the recently introduced European Green Deal”, including “ambitiously cutting greenhouse gas emissions” and reaching zero emissions by 2050. As part of the plan, the Commission raises the prospect of increased reliance on bioenergy sources.
This report, and accompanying briefing, provides a critical assessment of whether the EU Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation can help ensure this bioenergy benefits the climate. It focuses particularly on the extent to which the Regulation complements other EU tools such as the Renewable Energy Directive and the Emissions Trading System.
As it stands, the LULUCF Regulation will allow Member State forests to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere over the next 5 years. It also includes ambiguous definitions, incentives, and accounting rules, that will do nothing to reduce burning forest biomass for energy.
The five major flaws in the LULUCF regulation can be summarised as follows:
- Forest Reference Levels can allow for increases in harvest (and bioenergy supply) without penalising forest management emissions
- Forest bioenergy production can be increased without needing to account for related carbon dioxide emission increases
- Forest Reference Levels lack completeness and quality data
- It does not address imported biomass
- It has no direct influence over decisions taken by forest managers, wood processors and power generation utilities