What’s the problem with bioenergy?
Since 2009, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) has allowed Member States to subsidise energy from burning biomass. The aim was to cut emissions, but it didn’t take into account the many disadvantages of bioenergy: Member States have transformed coal power stations to burn woody biomass, cut their own forests for fuel, and even imported trees from the USA and beyond. This is the opposite of what needs to happen to achieve a low-carbon Energy Transition.
Bioenergy in Europe has been disastrous for the climate, forests and people’s health. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive ignores these fundamental principles: that forests are a natural carbon sink, that wood is a limited resource, and that wood is a source of carbon dioxide when burnt. Many scientists who conducted research on bioenergy have warned that increasing the combustion of wood is not compatible with the emergency posed by our climate breakdown: we only have a decade left to drastically limit our CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the EU’s reliance on forest biomass for renewable energy is incompatible with its goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.