Bioenergy Europe expresses concerns over ‘misleading image’ of industry in climate plans

Bioenergy Europe has welcomed the increased ambition in the European Commission’s Communication on 2030 Climate Target Plan but believes the 'non-technical wording' describing bioenergy’s contribution provides a ‘misleading image’ of the industry.

Achieving at least a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 would adjust the trajectory for the EU to become carbon-neutral by 2030. The 2030 Climate Target Plan acknowledges that the large scale deployment of renewables will be crucial in achieving higher climate ambition and to promote the EU’s industrial leadership on clean technologies.

The bioenergy sector is predominantly based in Europe with 50,000 business units, according to Bioenergy Europe, generating 39% of the turnover of all renewable energy source (RES) industries and employing indirectly more than 700,000 workers – 49% of all RES employment in the EU.

The organisation said the Commission’s commitment to extend carbon pricing to sectors that are not presently covered by EU ETs represents a step forward and will boost the competitiveness of renewables, facilitating their progression in the transport and building sectors. However, it expressed concerns regarding the Commission’s views on the limited projected increase in bioenergy by 2030.

In a statement, Bioenergy Europe said: “While we believe that the future of the bioenergy sector is intrinsically linked to the sustainability of the biomass feedstock, current misunderstanding of forest role in mitigating climate change could produce poorly designed policy instruments.

“To maintain the forest carbon sink, increase carbon stock and deliver on GHG savings, forests have to be sustainably and actively managed. In the long-run, leaving forests untouched would be counterproductive for Europe.”

The term ‘whole trees’ was used in the Commission’s biodiversity strategy, causing some controversy in the bioenergy sector. Bioenergy Europe labelled the term an “arbitrary designation” that does not relate to a specific forest product or grade of wood, but rather appeals to emotions.

Jean-Marc Jossart, Bioenergy Europe’s secretary-general, said: “We receive a mixed message from the European Commission. It is mandatory for Europe to take serious measures to step up the penetration of renewables in the EU’s energy system and send a clear signal regarding the immediate phasing out of fossil fuel.

“However, drafting of such an overarching strategy requires rigour. Using oversimplified terms that appeal to people’s emotions and disregard concrete evidence dangerously distort the debate.”

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