In January, several ministers from various EU member states, including Sweden’s Minister for Energy and Digital Development, Khashayar Farmanbar, sent a letter to the European Commission about bioenergy’s role in order to mitigate climate change. Twelve environmental organisations from the same member states as the ministers are now sending an open letter stating that the burning of forest biomass should not be included in the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
”With this open letter, we would like to inform the European Commission that the ministers from our EU member countries clearly ignore scientific evidence. The burning of forest biomass for energy is profoundly counterproductive: it increases the emissions over the coming decades more than fossil fuels at the same time as it decreases the forest carbon sinks,” said Lina Burnelius, project leader and international coordinator, Protect the Forest.
The Swedish National Institute of Economic (KI) latest environmental economic report states that the carbon sequestration capacity of forests must play a greater part in climate policy. According to KI, leaving forests standing to sequester carbon is more beneficial to society than harvesting and using the material for the so-called ‘green transition’, including biofuels, if climate targets are to be met.
Already about half of what is harvested in the EU is burnt for energy, and according to Commission projections under the RED, combustion and forest biomass might increase by 50%.
”This is an unsustainable development that needs to be stopped. The so called renewable targets in the EU Renewable Energy Directive clearly does not safeguard the forests or the climate. The burning of forest biomass should not be included in RED what so ever,” said Lina Burnelius, Protect the Forest.
Lina Burnelius concluded:
”Burning forest biomass increases carbon dioxide emissons and undermines EU’s biodiversity goals. Wood burning is also the biggest source of hazardous fine particles in the EU, even above road transport.”
Read the open letter to the European Commission from the twelve organisations here.
Read the JRC report about use of woody biomass for energy production in the EU (2020) here.
Read more about air pollution caused by the burning of wood (Forest Defenders Alliance, 2021) here.