October 19th is the International Day of Action on Bioenergy, a day to raise awareness about the impacts of the growing bioenergy industry driven by unwisely designed renewable energy policies. As we know, in many cases bioenergy hasn’t exactly lived up to the promises of renewable energy such as emission reductions and environmental protection – in many cases the impacts have been quite the opposite.
As the European Union’s renewable energy policies have been one of the most forceful drivers of growing bioenergy use and the EU is in a process of revising its policies, this year we want to turn the eyes of the world on EU leaders.
This growing demand for bioenergy increases the pressure on forests and ecosystems in Europe and beyond. It has led us to burning of whole trees, imports of wood from forests across the Atlantic, to burning food and even land grabs. The pictures on this page show results of bioenergy production and use on the ground, the consequences of this increased pressure on ecosystems from around the world.
While EU policies are strongly driving the use of bioenergy, they don’t set any safeguards for most of it. The growing evidence of the undesired impacts has however made the European Commission to reconsider its stance. The European Commission is currently drafting a new sustainability policy for bioenergy – expected in early December 2016.
While it’s already good news that such a policy is being formulated, it still needs to be ensured that the policy actually protects the environment and helps us to combat climate change. That’s why a group of 11 NGOs launched their recommendations in September on what would a meaningful policy look like.
The EU leaders in charge of the future and sustainability of bioenergy are Vice President Maroš Šefčovič of the European Commission, who’s in charge of the so called Energy Union team. In his team, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete is in charge of the climate and energy policy proposals including the one on bioenergy.
On the 19th of October we want to draw their attention to the issue of bioenergy and how important it is to get this piece of policy right. It’s not only important for the EU but also for the rest of the world. It sets an example to the rest of the world on how to move forward with bioenergy. The EU has already shown global leadership in deciding to limit the use of food based biofuels in transport and now needs to do the same for the rest of the bioenergy. It’s also relevant for the rest of the world as the new policy will direct the demand EU policies are creating for imported biomass.
That is a big responsibility, with the credibility of renewable energy at stake. Join us to call the European Commission for a new EU bioenergy policy that protects our climate, crops & forests!