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Bioenergy: important step towards protecting forests & food security taken by the EU Environment Committee

Late on Monday 16th of May the European Parliament’s environment committee voted on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), including an important positive step limiting subsidies to burning forests biomass and crop-based biofuels.

Forests biomass: with a 45 to 36 majority the committee voted in favour of amendment CA9, recommending that primary woody biomass should no longer be subsidised and should largely be excluded from counting towards renewable energy targets. This is something we have been fighting for a long time together with many other environmental NGOs, so that forests are no longer wrecked in the name of renewable energy.

Crop-based biofuels: the ENVI committee also voted in favour of amendment CA7 which limits crop-based biofuels to no more than half the share of the overall biofuel use in transport and specifies biofuels from palm oil and soy to be phased by 2023. This has been another key NGOs demand for years as crop-based biofuels compete with food production over land, fuel agricultural sprawl at the expanse of natural habitats and promote destructive industrial agricultural practices.

This is a major outcome, but only a first step in the political process of reviewing the RED. In June, the EU Parliament’s ITRE (energy) committee will also propose their own amendments to the RED. Finally, the ENVI & ITRE amendments will have to be approved by the Parliaments plenary after the summer break. There is a real danger that the positive work of the ENVI committee could be reversed, and we will continue to bring awareness of the issues with bioenergy all along the process.

In parallel the European Council is also considering amendments to the RED. The final outcome of the trialogue process, where Parliament and Council need to agree a final compromise, are expected late in the year at the earliest.

Kenneth Richter, bioenergy policy officer for BirdLife Europe:
“The environment committee’s vote was a positive first step towards restoring forests for climate and nature. This is a powerful signal that progressive EU law makers have understood that bioenergy from burning wood and crops is fuelling climate change and nature destruction and should no longer be supported by subsidies and other measures.”

Marilda Dhaskali, agriculture and bioenergy policy officer at BirdLife Europe:
“We welcome the outcome from the Envi committee vote as this initiate a first step to an end of the Bioenergy scam. The endeavour towards a decarbonised society urges us to go beyond burning and nature is our best ally in this complicated path, we must not destroy it.”

Image credits: adamikarl/

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