Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia - Press release 28 November 2017

The European Parliament’s industry and energy committee (ITRE) caves in to farm and forestry lobby and commits Europe to more climate and biodiversity harm

Today the ITRE committee of the European Parliament voted on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) opting in favour of another decade of environmentally and socially harmful support to unsustainable bioenergy. The ITRE committee voted in favor of increasing the target for renewable transport to 12% between now and 2030 and to introduce a target for renewable heating. The existing transport target for 2020 has been met by environmentally damaging crop-based biofuels and most renewable heating to date has been provided by unsustainable woody biomass. Despite minor safeguards introduced on wider renewable energy deployment, today’s vote could have catastrophic impacts unless the EP plenary changes direction.

Matt Williams, Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “This is a very disappointing outcome. The new renewable transport and heating targets that MEPs have voted for today could drive the use of more unsustainable woody biomass and more unsustainable crop-based biofuels. Both of which could have significant negative consequences for the climate and biodiversity. We know, for example, that the use of crop-based biofuels in transport has caused emissions to increase, instead of reducing them. These harmful sources of biomass have already contributed significantly to transport fuels and renewable heating among Member States, and new targets are only likely to further incentivise their deployment. There are still more steps in the process before the Renewable Energy Directive is finalised, but this vote by MEPs is a worrying signal about where the Parliament stands on this issue. We hope that in the final version of the Renewable Energy Directive neither target will be included.”

Unfortunately ITRE Committee also failed to adopt safeguards to ensure repowering of existing damaging energy projects is controlled. Encouragement of streamlined permitting risks giving the green card to continued operation of inappropriately sited developments. One small bright spot is the requirement for spatial planning in the deployment of renewable energy.

Alice Collier, Climate Change & Energy Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “Despite an environmentally and socially irresponsible vote on bioenergy, we are glad to see the Committee recognize the need for spatial planning in the Renewable Energy Directive. This is a small positive step towards achieving a more sustainable energy transition that respects our precious wildlife whilst working towards delivering the renewable energy we need to tackle climate change. However, much more is needed if Europe is to avoid a conflict between energy and wildlife. We encourage Parliament to strengthen this with further amendments as the file moves forwards towards Plenary and Trilogue, and for complimentary amendments to be included in the Governance of the Energy Union Regulation due to go to vote next month.” ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Matt Williams, Policy officer
BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
+ 44 (0) 785 457 5690

Alice Collier, Climate Change & Energy Policy
BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
+ 44 (0) 7702 822 865

For more information visit the EUbioenergy blog and follow #EUbioenergy



Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.