2017’s first major international bioenergy gathering, the 5th Central European Biomass Conference in Graz, Austria has resulted in the “Graz Declaration”. Six national associations along with the European Biomass Association and World Bioenergy Association are calling on the EU to retake the lead on fossil fuel phase out.
Leading bioenergy experts from around the world have converged in Graz, Austria this week for the 5th Central European Biomass Conference. Taking advantage of the gathering World Bioenergy Association (WBA), European Biomass Association (AEBIOM) and the national bioenergy associations of Austria (ABA), Germany (FVH, BBE), Italy (AIEL), Slovenia (SLOBIOM), Croatia and Serbia (SERBIO) signed the “Graz Declaration” summarising demands on EU energy policy including:.
- 50 percent reduction of fossil fuel usage by 2030
- Phase out of fossil-based electricity production
- Double the use of biomass in final energy use
- Set a 2.5 fold increase in renewables
The signatories point out that the most important measure for the achievement of the objectives is the introduction of a carbon dioxide (CO2) tax.
– The historic agreement of Paris marked a new era in international climate protection. Now, global warming has to be limited to two degrees or less in the long term. Renewable energy has a key role to play. Biomass is particularly promising for the future – and the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment is pushing ahead with its use with tailor-made funding programs, emphasised Günter Liebel, Head of the Environment and Climate Protection Section of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management.
“Energiewende” an opportunity
Remigijus Lapinskas, President of the World Bioenergy Association, estimates that bioenergy can contribute a minimum of 150 EJ (56 EJ in 2013) to energy supply in the near future.
– The most promising sector is the use of biofuels in transport. The decarbonisation of the heat sector by the use of biomass in combined heat and power (CHP) plants must also be promoted, Lapinskas highlighted.
An efficient energy supply from biogenic waste and agricultural residues as well as the topics of innovation and financing will be crucial for the bioenergy sector in the future. A strategy for a gradual and annual reduction of the use of fossil fuels worldwide and nationally is important to carry out the energy recovery. A key instrument is a CO2 tax, also demanded in the Graz Declaration.
– Now local governments must understand that bioenergy is a great opportunity and support this inevitable green transition, said Lapinskas.
Europe as a pioneer
– The current EU targets for 2030, 40 percent emission reduction compared to 1990 and 27 percent share of renewable energies – does not meet the climate objectives of COP 21, stated Josef Plank, President of the Austrian Biomass Association (ABA).
According to Plank, Europe has a “special responsibility” in transforming into a fossil-free society. Technologies, know-how, experience, capital and positive examples are available as on any other continent. With a successful climate policy, Europe could play a pioneering role and other continents would follow the European example.
– For this reason, a large number of European biomass associations are signing the Graz Declaration and are making suggestions as to how the climate goals can be achieved. In particular, the introduction of a progressive increase in CO2 emissions tax is considered to be an important factor. This must reach at least EUR 100 per tonne in order to be effective, said Planck citing Sweden as an example.
– Sweden has already shown us how the energy demand can successfully be transitioned with a CO2 levy of EUR 120 per tonne. The country also proves that economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions can be decoupled, he said.