The World Rainforest Movement and BiofuelWatch have called on the EU to scrap bio-energy subsidies, starting with the upcoming Renewable Energy Directive. In their eyes, incentivising large-scale bioenergy production is anything but renewable: it relies on industrial-scale agriculture and monoculture tree plantations, and it can actually increase emissions rather than reducing them.
The statement suggests that small-scale, locally-owned bioenergy undertakings that can be supported through EU rural development funding are a preferable alternative.
The NGO statement, which is open for other organisations to sign, was released as the European Commission conducts a public consultation with a view to revising its renewables policy for the post-2020 period.
Meanwhile, a study carried out by Forest Research for the European Commission, shows that bioenergy use can lead to increasing CO₂ emissions and is not carbon-neutral, as current EU bioenergy policy assumes.
The study, Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU, warns that significant use of wood for energy presents great risks to sustainable harvesting, both within the EU and in other regions, especially the US.
Another important conclusion is that biomass imports contribute a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The study revealed that unconstrained bioenergy use could lead to annual emissions of about 520 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent. Fern aims to provide a more in depth analysis of the study in the next Forest Watch.
Image: Fred Pearce