EU Parliament industry committee votes to include severe loopholes to allow more burning of forests for energy

EU Parliament industry committee votes to include severe loopholes to allow more burning of forests for energy

Today, the EU Parliament’s industry committee (ITRE) voted on recommendations for the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that will have far reaching consequences for Europe’s forests as they will open the way for even more burning of wood for energy.

Half of European wood harvest already burned for energy

Already more than half of Europe’s wood harvest is burned and subsidised as “renewable energy”, despite the stark warnings of scientists that this is accelerating the climate crisis, and harming already threatened wildlife.  

The loopholes included in the ITRE committee’s report will allow an increase in wood burning, contributing to the destruction of Europe’s already vanishing forests:

  • While the proposal aims to end support for wood burning in electricity-only plants (the least efficient power plants), it does so only for “veneer & saw logs, stumps & roots”. This would only apply to a minute proportion of wood as these qualities of wood are seldom burned, leaving the majority of wood still eligible for subsidies.

  • Exemptions also include installations in coal-dependent regions, installations using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and electricity-only power stations that cannot easily be converted to produce both heat and electricity; which could cover almost all existing plants.

  • Taking account of the loopholes in the Commission proposal and the ITRE report, the majority of forest biomass will still be subsidised and incentivised by the RED and counted as zero carbon in legislation such as the Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Kenneth Richter, Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe: “Burning trees for energy is literally adding fuel to the fire that is the ongoing climate and biodiversity crisis. The loopholes introduced are so big that they leave most of our forests unprotected. The forest destruction receives billions in subsidies, and the bill is footed by European citizens. This is money that should instead be used to fund an urgent energy transition to actually green and clean renewables. When the Parliament’s plenary votes on the Renewable Energy Directive in September they must remove these severe loopholes and end EU support for burning trees for energy.”

For more information, please contact:

Honey Kohan, Communication Manager, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 483 55 95 43

Image credits:, STOK



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