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Bioenergy

Fern’s aim is to limit the EU’s industrial use of wood for energy

Fern’s analysis: Whilst the need to reduce fossil fuel use is clear, some alternatives, such as large scale biomass use can be as bad for the environment, the climate and people. Wood has always been an important source of energy, for local and traditional uses, but in recent years ‘biomass’ has been promoted by the EU on a large industrial scale as a ‘renewable energy source’. This has put an increasing pressure on forests and people in Europe and globally.

The EU is presently considering how it can meet a new target of having at least 27 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2030. Great caution will need to be applied if biomass is to be considered as part of that energy mix. Forests have an important climate function, and wood is a scarce natural resource which emits greenhouse gas emissions when burned for energy. This negative effect is not matched by the climate benefits that the biomass sector claims. Plus, partly because of a lack of EU rules, the sourcing, production and use of biomass currently cause negative environmental and social impacts.

The present EU renewable energy policy drives demands for wood, in an era where land and forests are already under pressure by increasing hunger for natural resources for the production of food and materials. If the EU is to meet its aim of halting deforestation by 2030, it cannot continue to subsidise demand for yet another commodity that drives deforestation: biomass.

What Fern is doing: Fern investigates the impacts of biomass use in Europe and globally, and explores ways how EU policies should respond to the concerns associated with biomass production and use. Fern promotes civil society dialogue on how to achieve a socially and environmentally sustainable EU climate and energy policy.

To learn more about this campaign: the best documents to read are "Burning Matter", "Biomass Report shows increasing lack of policy coherence on forest protection", "Increased use of biomass: recommendations for ensuring it is environmentally responsible and socially just", "Volunteering for disaster: why biomass criteria must be ambitious and legally binding" and "Woody Biomass for Energy: NGO Concerns and Recommendations".

 

Most recent publications

Climate the loser as the European Parliament fails to ensure wood is burnt sustainably

(Brussels) – 17 January 2018. The European Parliament today failed to help the climate by reversing the European Union’s (EU) disastrous bioenergy policy. 

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PDF iconEP bioenergy_RED_vote_Fern_PR.pdf589.52 KB

EU proposals on bioenergy: a serious threat to climate and sustainable development goals

This letter written on behalf of 30 NGOs asks Members of the European Parliament to support crucial changes to the proposed rules on bioenergy in the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive.

Covered in smoke: why burning biomass threatens European health

Tens of thousands of EU citizens are dying prematurely every year as a result of exposure to air pollution from burning solid biomass, mainly wood, to provide heat and electricity.

Council fails to make the EU’s use of biomass sustainable

This press release responds to EU Energy ministers failure to ensure #EUbioenergy is sustainable. By allowing large scale burning of trees for power they are likely to increase forest logging and emissions.

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PDF iconFern_PR_Council Decision_REDII.pdf478.62 KB

Forest restoration - Our secret weapon for achieving the Paris Agreement targets

 
To reach the Paris Agreement temperature target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees we must preserve and restore forests. On 16 November 2017 our event looked at how forest restoration can be undertaken in a way that protects local people’s rights and consider ways to mobilise finances for protection and restoration.

Playing with Fire: Europe's bioenergy future

Many European countries rely on bioenergy to meet their renewable energy targets - with detrimental impacts on forests, air quality, the climate and the European wood industry.

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