Statement: New EU Biomass Policy Fails to Protect Southern Forests and Communities

Dogwood Alliance Statement on the European Union Renewable Energy Directive III:

March 30, 2023: This morning, EU negotiations were finalized for the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). They chose to reject calls from the EU Parliament to phase out biomass as a renewable fuel. There were some small improvements to the policy, but, unfortunately, they will not go far enough to protect communities and forests. They won’t halt the climate-destroying practice of burning forests for electricity. With the fever pitch urgency of climate action, this was the moment for the EU to fix the huge policy mistakes they have made through the years.

They failed to find the courage to do so.

Rita Frost, Campaigns Director at Dogwood Alliance, said:

“This decision is no different from what the EU has been putting out as biomass policy over the last 15 years. Some fancy words that shift the emphasis but take no real action. Once again the many have caved to the pressure of the few. The EU has allowed special interests and a few member states to control their biomass policy, which has already caused so much destruction. Not science, justice, or climate action. Communities in the Southern US are looking for political leadership to stop harms to their health, forests, and our climate. If the EU is not going to take real action, it’s time for the Biden Administration to stand for forests by halting the expansion of the biomass industry.”

The biggest positive of the final directive was a greater awareness of the harms.

The directive also allows member states to add new requirements governing what kinds of biomass qualify as renewable energy. Countries with growing biomass controversy like the Netherlands have suffered because of EU-wide policy. Now they have more freedom to eliminate biomass as a fuel source.

Unfortunately, the new policy continues to have loopholes. It allows countries to count burning biomass as a climate benefit. It leaves the troubling possibility of further development of Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). The policy increases the overall renewable energy target to 42.5%. This will only increase the amount of biomass used by countries that are already heavily reliant on it.

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