Environmental News from Europe:
- The European Parliament’s Environment Committee this week made strong but nonbinding recommendations to put a brake on the EU’s total commitment to burning forest biomass to produce energy. While environmentalists cautiously hailed the decision, the forestry industry condemned it.
- A key recommendation urges that primary woody biomass (that made from whole trees) produce energy and heat no longer receive government subsidies under the EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
- Another recommendation called for primary woody biomass to no longer be counted toward EU member states’ renewable energy targets. Currently, biomass accounts for 60% of the EU’s renewable energy portfolio, far more than zero-carbon wind and solar.
- The Environment Committee recommendations mark the first time any part of the EU government has questioned the aggressive use of biomass by the EU to meet its Paris Agreement goals. A final decision by the EU on its biomass burning policies is expected in September as part of its revised Renewable Energy Directive.
In a surprising and unprecedented vote this week, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee recommended the scaling back of the EU’s existing subsidies incentivizing the burning of wood pellets, replacing coal for heat and energy. The committee also urged the European Union to reduce how much it counts forest biomass toward the continent’s renewable energy goals.
Forest advocates are viewing the move with both hope and skepticism.
If approved and written into policy in September as part of the EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the recommendations would be the first steps of any kind toward slowing the accelerating use of biomass burning over the past 12 years, which scientists have long argued adds to carbon emissions, damages forests, and diminishes biodiversity.
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