Leading the discussion on the harmonised, binding criteria proposed last November by the European Commission (EC) is the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) with Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) as rapporteur. According to the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), Eickhout's recommendations would decrease the contribution of bioenergy to EU's renewable energy mix.
EU inter-institutional discussions on solid bioenergy sustainability started June 8 with the publication of the European Parliament’s first draft report. Leading the discussion on the harmonised, binding criteria proposed last November by the European Commission (EC) is the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) with Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) as rapporteur.
Following the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, both ENVI and AEBIOM would agree that it is crucial for the European Union’s credibility that words and actions go hand in hand.
However, Eickhout’s report is a first vibrant counterexample. How can the EU reach a (welcomed) 45 percent RES target while at the same time jeopardising its main source of renewable energy? commented Jean-Marc Jossart, Secretary General AEBIOM in a statement.
According to Jossart, following Eickhout’s recommendations would simply result in the decrease of bioenergy’s contribution to the EU energy mix. Bioenergy currently represents 60 percent of all renewable energy consumption in Europe, 95 percent of which is produced within the EU,
For instance, extending the scope of implementation of EU bioenergy sustainability rules to installations between 1 and 20 MW would translate into additional burdens for thousands of small and medium size operators across Europe, while deterring the development of hundreds of local projects. Indeed, installations between 1 and 20 MW represent more than 80 percent of the total number of installations above 1 MW capacity in Europe, but only about 25 percent of the wood volume consumed. A 1 MW threshold is just the opposite of proportional and effective, said Jossart.
Jossart highlights that the establishment of a list of the types of wood waste and residues considered sustainable and defined arbitrarily is another example showing that the report “ignores the multifaceted ground reality of the forest industry”.
This will be totally counter-productive as it will limit the opportunities for forest owners to better manage their forests thanks to additional sources of income. Overall, this report ignores the role that bioenergy can play to reach climate and energy objectives while delivering the utmost socio-economic benefits sought in rural areas. At such a critical time, the European Parliament should avoid playing with fire, concluded Jossart.