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Bioenergy plays an increasing role in climate change mitigation

Bioenergy is a key reason why Sweden ranks highest of all countries in the Climate Change Performance Index. But the Swedish success story is threatened by proposals negotiated within the European Parliament.
"We urge MEPs to reject these ideas and instead help bioenergy to play an increasing role in climate change mitigation," says Nina Ekelund, Executive Director of the Haga Initiative.

Freshly harvested forest fibre (spruce pulpwood) awaiting collection to begin its transformation process into pulp, paper, biochemical and biofuel products.

Bioenergy is a key reason why Sweden ranks highest of all countries in the Climate Change Performance Index, published by among others the Climate Action Network and researchers at the New Climate Institute.

But according to the Haga Initiative, a Swedish network for businesses that strive for a profitable business without climate impact, the Swedish success story is threatened by the proposals on the table for the November 28 vote on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) in the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Energy and Research (ITRE) and risk counteracting further success in Sweden.

The Haga Initiative highlights that strengthening renewable energy in the EU is a key aspect of meeting the targets of the Paris Treaty on climate and although not all bioenergy systems are beneficial in this perspective, it is “widely recognised and shown in research that biofuels produced and used in Sweden contribute to significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Besides climate benefits, many biofuels deliver additional societal benefits, such as energy security, protein feed, rural employment and open landscapes. We hope that the parliament manages to separate the wheat from the chaff so that climate beneficial biofuels are not ruled out, said Alarik Sandrup, Director Public and Regulatory Affairs at Lantmännen, a Swedish agricultural cooperative major.

Climate beneficial biofuels part of the solution

Achieving the Paris Treaty objectives requires the development of several alternatives to fossil fuels. In parallel with increased electrification of the transport sector, using climate beneficial biofuels is an important part of the solution, since these allow major emission reductions with present technologies.

Climate beneficial biofuels, including crop-based biofuels with high GHG savings as well as advanced biofuels from residues, are an important part achieving alternatives to fossil fuels.

For example, Lantmännen Agroetanol produces ethanol with greenhouse gas (GHG) savings of more than 90 percent and Preem plan to produce 3 million m3 biodiesel and biogasoline by the year 2030, using residues and waste mainly from the Swedish pulp industry and agriculture. Demand for these solutions is increasing since a number of years.

It would be deeply regretful if climate solutions applauded by researchers and environmental organisations are blocked by politicians in the name of climate policy. I hope that the ITRE Committee ensures that each biofuel is regulated based on lifecycle emissions, not on speculations on arbitrary categories of fuels, says Helene Samuelsson Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Preem.

The Haga Initiative urges MEPs to adopt policies that support biofuels with low GHG emissions throughout their life cycle, but that do not restrict certain specific types of raw materials per se. Policies must moreover be long-term and should allow new fuels that meet climate requirements to enter the market in the future.

EU policy must draw the main demarcation line between climate beneficial biofuels and those fuels that increase greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, all fossil fuels need to be phased out by 2040 at the very latest, in the entire EU, says Nina Ekelund, Executive Director of the Haga Initiative.

About The Haga Initiative

Founded in 2010, the Haga Initiative wants to reduce the carbon emissions of the Swedish business sector, highlight the climate issue as one of the most important future issues, and gather companies that take active responsibility for the climate. The companies in the network have set their own climate goals to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and achieve net zero by 2030.

The network currently consists of 15 companies: AkzoNobel, Axfood, Coca-Cola European Partner Sverige, Folksam, Fortum Värme, Green Cargo, HKScan Sweden, JM, Lantmännen, Löfbergs, McDonalds Sweden, Preem, Siemens, Stena Recycling and Sveaskog.

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