In a competition to find the best example of EU policy incoherence, the EU’s bioenergy policy would be a strong contender. In 2009, the EU agreed a target of 20 per cent of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, yet omitted to ensure that energy from biomass would at all times be produced with clear climate benefits and without any negative environmental and social impacts.
Years on, dramatic increases in the EU’s consumption of biomass, often as wood for electricity generation, and of biofuels in transportation have contributed significantly to deforestation, both within the EU and in other producer countries, with attendant food security and biodiversity impacts.
Burning Matter: Making Bioenergy Policy Work for People and Forests outlines the manner in which EU bioenergy policy drives deforestation, undermining the EU’s target of halting deforestation by 2030. It details the EU’s biofuels and biomass policies separately, including the history of their implementation; associated fictions, e.g. that biomass is a carbon-neutral energy source; the unintended social and environmental consequences of the policies; and their costs to the EU, Member States and producer countries. For both biofuels and biomass, Burning Matter makes specific recommendations to rein in the damage. In addition, the report suggests broader policy revisions to the EU Emission Trading System and to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in order to measure the actual climate impact of biomass emissions in climate policy.