German government presents key points for a National Biomass Strategy

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The German government is laying the foundations for the sustainable use of biomass from forestry, agriculture and waste management. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Ministry for the Environment presented key points on 6 October to ensure sustainable biomass production and use in Germany that is consistently geared to climate, environmental and biodiversity goals.
The sustainable available biomass potential, the preservation of natural ecosystems and the food-first principle (priority of food security) form the framework for action.
Based on these key points, the strategy is to be developed in dialogue with representatives from politics, industry, science and society, and will be adopted next year. In doing so, the German government said it is implementing a further mandate from its coalition agreement. It is aimed at identifying medium- and long-term prospects for the use of biomass. Questions concerning the short-term role of bioenergy in the context of energy supply security are not the focus of the strategy.
According to German Economics Minister Robert Habeck: "Biomass - ie wood, energy crops or organic waste, for example - is a resource that is in great demand and is also a domestic resource. Even though it is of natural origin and is a renewable raw material: its use is not per se climate and environmentally friendly.
"Biomass is also in limited supply. So we need rules for sustainable use. We are creating the necessary guidelines for this with the biomass strategy. It is intended to ensure that biomass is only used in sustainably available quantities in the future, in a more targeted manner for climate protection and the transformation of our economy toward greenhouse gas neutrality.
"In this way, we are creating a reliable long-term framework for investment, including in rural areas - always in harmony with the conservation of our natural resources. In the EU, we are also providing an example with the strategy of how European climate protection and environmental goals can best be achieved together."
Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir said: "In these times of far-reaching consequences for global food security of Russia's attack on Ukraine, which is contrary to international law, and increasing competition for scarce raw materials, responsible and forward-looking use of our natural resources is more important than ever.
"Grain and oilseed production in the fields, animal husbandry and grassland use, wood from forestry: all these are elementary production areas of biomass use and a central pillar for our agriculture, forestry and rural areas.
"With a view to further necessary efforts to secure food and energy supplies and to protect the climate and biodiversity, the National Biomass Strategy is an important instrument for making sustainably produced biomass usable in a targeted and system-serving manner and for securing its potential.
"To meet these challenges, careful consideration of the future use of limited and sustainable biomass potential is required, which should be supported by clear guiding political principles and concrete policy instruments."
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said: "The climate and biodiversity crises are two sides of the same coin and can only be solved together. We must not play the crises off against each other.
"The aim of the National Biomass Strategy is therefore to determine how much sustainably extracted and produced biomass is available and to use it within ecological limits.
"In order to make a measurable and sustainable contribution to climate and biodiversity protection, it is necessary to carefully consider what the scarce resource biomass should be used for.
"We need efficient cascade use: high-value materials must be used sustainably, in the case of wood, for example, for the production of building materials or furniture.
"At the same time, protecting ecosystems that naturally store CO2 leads to a measurable contribution to climate protection and biodiversity conservation, meaning it may make sense to leave wood in the forest."
Agricultural and forest biomass is already used in many areas in Germany - including to meet Germany's climate targets. These include, for example, manure for biogas and thus energy production and wood for the construction industry.
In the future, the demand for biomass will increase. At the same time, the sustainable potential available worldwide is limited. It is therefore all the more important to establish strategic guiding principles for sustainable biomass production and use in order to set more incentives and targets for sustainable biomass use.

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