Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 14 June 2018

We'll always (NEVER) have Paris; EU Renewable Energy Directive fails again on bioenergy sustainability

Early this morning, the negotiations between the European Council, Commission and Parliament on the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive were concluded. The Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which is part of the EU’s clean energy laws, dramatically fails to provide much needed safeguards against unsustainable bioenergy [1].

Lamentably settling for no more than 32% as a renewable energy target, the RED falls far short on all aspects. It ensures the EU will fail to achieve the climate mitigation goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement. It also fails a crucial test for its commitment to halt the decline of biodiversity, namely to ensure the sustainability of bioenergy used in the EU.

The framework will:

  • Allow member states to subsidise the burning of wood stumps & stems for electricity, which can create even more greenhouse gas emissions than coal
  • Continue to treat burning wood from forests for energy as carbon-neutral when science clearly indicates this is false
  • Allow wood to be burned in inefficient electricity-only plants, opening the door to old coal-fired plants across Europe to be converted to burn huge amounts of valuable forest wood
  • Limit the amount of food-based biofuels, but at a higher level than what is currently used in the EU.  
  • Fail to end the use of palm oil for biofuel, with only vague language agreed.

Kenneth Richter, EU Bioenergy, BirdLife Europe: “The outcome of the Renewable Energy Directive recast is deeply disappointing. The manoeuvring of some Member States mean that virtually no progress has been made to end state subsidies for unsustainable forms of bioenergy that can be worse than fossil fuels.

There is now an acute danger that across Europe we will be burning wood at an unprecedented and industrial scale with dire consequences for forests and the climate. By failing to ensure the sustainability of bioenergy and biofuels the EU has made sure that this file will have to be opened up again if we are to come close to meeting the Paris Climate Accords our leaders have pledged to respect.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe:
Today’s shameful decision to keep subsidizing the burning of our planet fits a pattern seen with recent CAP and CFP reform proposals. Our decision makers talk the talk of “climate, biodiversity and sustainability”, but then continue walking the walk of subsidies to the same dirty lobbies.


For further information, please contact:

Kenneth Richter, EU Bioenergy, BirdLife Europe
+49 176 2359 3712


[1] The EU already imports more than seven million metric tons of wood pellets from third countries for bioenergy each year. More palm oil, a key driver of tropical deforestation, is now imported into the EU for biofuels and bioenergy than for food and cosmetics.

For more information on the impacts of unsustainable bioenergy see:

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.