When one considers the International Energy Agency’s definition for renewable energy, ‘energy derived from natural processes, like sunlight and wind, that are replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed’, one should think twice about bioenergy being fed by crops and forests as being renewable.
With such strong arguments in mind, an international coalition of green groups has called on the EU to stop wasting renewable energy subsidies on biofuels and burning wood because of their not so green impacts on biodiversity, communities, and the climate. The coalition wants the EU to face the facts, large-scale production and use of bioenergy is not carbon neutral, it’s not low carbon, and carbon markets will not be able to reduce emissions effectively in the face of climate change.
Current EU renewable energy polices are not green, but instead are harming the livelihoods of millions of people in countries around the world. Policies which have encouraged and promoted wide scale industrial agriculture and monoculture tree plantations, which are causing biodiversity loss and destruction of natural habitats in many places.
These green groups argue that the EU’s Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete’s claim that the European contribution to emission reductions is “the most ambitious presented to date” is founded on false pretenses. That for too long the EU has been hiding behind the UNFCCC‘s flawed greenhouse gas accounting rules. Rules which for some mysterious reason say that emissions from ‘land use change’ and forest degradation are to be accounted for only in the countries where they occur. Rules which have allowed the EU to turn a blind eye and pretend that crops and wood pellets imported from other countries for biofuel are carbon neutral, which is clearly not the case.
In 2012, two thirds of the EU’s renewable energy came from bioenergy and it’s heading at full speed in this direction. The Renewable Energy Directive requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020, and the EU has just committed to a carbon emissions reduction target of at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
This means that if things don’t change there will be even a greater push for bioenergy from biofuels. Before this happens, the coalition is urging the Commission to exclude bioenergy from the next Renewable Energy Directive but rather only support truly green renewable energies like wind and solar.
Photo credit: Deforestation (c) Lauria Jacques, Flickr Creative Commons
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