The EU bioenergy cover-up?

EU countries looking to improve their environmental credentials by increasing the amount of bioenergy they use, have been accused of threatening the fight against global warming.

“The normally climate friendly countries - including France, Finland, Sweden and Austria - are trying to weaken EU rules on emissions from land and forests. They plan to significantly increase the amount of trees they cut in the next decade and are looking for ways to hide the emissions that will be released,” reads a statement from Fern, an NGO founded to keep track of the EU’s involvement in forests.

A group of Swedish NGOs examined the 28 EU member states’ individual proposals for measuring their forest and land emissions, revealing the impact they will have on the EU’s efforts to keep global temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The results have been published on a specially created website. EU members meanwhile, are on the verge of finalising new rules on land and forest emissions.

Taking into account forest and land emissions, countries which are usually “proud” of their environmental records find themselves low in the league table – Austria ranks 12th, Sweden 16th and Finland 21st out of the 28 EU countries.

Hannah Mowat, Climate Campaigner at Fern explained: “It’s striking that even the highest scoring country – Germany – still has a way to go before it reaches top points. The impact that forest management has on our climate is simply not taken seriously enough.”

Fern explains that in order to achieve ambitious global warming reduction targets, cutting down on global emissions is not enough. Carbon dioxide also needs to be removed from the atmosphere, and the only way to do that is through forests.

“The negotiations are also important for the vastly subsidised bioenergy market, because emissions from burning trees are only counted in the land use sector. If emissions are not counted there, the bioenergy industry will be able to keep burning, polluting, and collecting subsidies without any controls at all,” the statement reads.

Hanna Aho, Bioenergy Campaigner at Fern said: “Member States meeting today must urgently reflect on what they are lobbying for. Some forms of bioenergy are already more polluting than coal, if we don’t measure their emissions when the trees are cut, we won’t measure them anywhere and the industry will continue to receive green subsidies to destroy our forests and pollute the planet.”

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