EU policy for bioenergy sustainability – discussions ahead of the European Commission’s proposal
The European Commission is preparing a policy for sustainable bioenergy and with the finalisation of the Impact Assessment by the Secretariat-General, the discussions are now taking place at the political level. Ahead of the policy proposal, CEPF and EUSTAFOR sent a letter to the European Commission, outlining their views and concerns.

As a part of EU 2030 Climate and Energy framework, the European Commission is preparing a policy for sustainable bioenergy. The Commission Secretariat-General has now concluded the work of the impact assessment and indicated that there are five policy options on the table.

The final choice between these options will be made at the political level when the Commissioners meet to decide in which direction the policy will be guided. The five options include baseline and guidelines, extending the biofuel sustainability criteria for all bioenergy, a risk-based approach, measures for energy efficiency and restrictions on roundwood.

The Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) together with the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) sent a letter (see below) to the European Commission prior to the proposal, which is expected by the end of 2016.

In the letter, CEPF and EUSTAFOR reiterate the fact that forest biomass is largely a domestic energy source and that sustainable forest management is already regulated under various policies and strict silvicultural guidelines, whereby EU policy makers should consider where value-added can be achieved with a new bioenergy policy.

The Commission needs to look at the already existing EU policies and their impact on the bioenergy use, for example by looking into subsidies and energy efficiency policies, before any action on developing new compulsory tools is taken. Determining “low-value” or “appropriate” use of wood at EU level, through for example regulating cascade use or restricting certain forest biomass types, is not feasible and could even be counterproductive.

CEPF and EUSTAFOR agree that forest biomass should be used in the most efficient way and that greenhouse gas emissions savings should be secured and demonstrated. In this context, energy efficiency and GHG emissions savings thresholds could be considered. Also, the ongoing integration of a robust LULUCF policy in the EU’s climate and energy framework is an important part of the solution, ensuring that all emissions and uptake from forests are properly accounted for.

For further information, please contact the CEPF Secretariat.