The European parliament today passed a new amendment on biomass that establishes a phase down of harmful subsidies for the burning of whole trees – the type of woody biomass that has the most negative impact on climate and forest biodiversity – for energy.
But the devil is in the details. The parliament didn’t set a clear timetable for the phase down, and the new amendment’s loopholes – allowing the burning of trees from forests affected by pests or from windfalls – risk perpetuating the fraud in these practices that is already widespread in many countries in Eastern Europe.
This is why more transparent data on biomass is needed – to show the public what’s happening in their forests, and to ensure that these new rules can actually be accurately monitored and enforced.
Recent investigations by The New York Times, EIA, and our partners have shown the direct impact that biomass and pellets are having on European forests. Across Eastern and Central Europe, protected areas are being destroyed for the burning of whole logs in the name of renewable energy – all paid for by billions of euro in EU subsidies.
With today’s vote, the European parliament has drawn a line in the sand. We now need to massively accelerate action to go to cleaner sources of energy that make climate, human health and forests better, not worse.
Today’s vote also sends a strong signal to investors that the future of renewable energy will not include burning trees.
Our ability to survive climate change is dependent on us protecting and restoring natural forests – the most proven, most cost effective ‘technology’ we have for pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in soils and trees.