Despite some positive points, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament (ENVI) failed to set EU bioenergy policy on a sensible course when it voted, October 2017, on the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII). The proposed new Directive is for the period after 2020, and it includes a sustainability policy for bioenergy.
Positive outcomes were a majority vote for a more ambitious overall target for renewables and for a phase-out of damaging ‘crop-based biofuels’ in transport.
Negatives included that ENVI didn’t mitigate the main environmental risks of using forest biomass for the production of electricity and heat. Rapporteur Bas Eickhout had proposed to disallow subsidies to the worst practices: burning whole trees and wood in low-efficiency power-only installations or co-firing them with fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the more conservative groups and some individual Scandinavian MEPs voted down these proposals.
Environmental campaigners, and the scientific community are greatly concerned that the current Commission proposal will intensify forest management, increase use of whole trees for energy and decrease the forest carbon sink. The current renewables policy has already caused great forest destruction and increased emissions. Politicians are urged to limit the use of biomass to waste and residues only.
The Parliament has the opportunity to make changes in a plenary vote scheduled for early 2018, NGOs including Fern are saying that if we do not get the renewables policy right, we will sacrifice our climate and forests.