EU dragged to court for backing forest biomass as ‘renewable energy’

(EurActiv, 4 Mar 2019) A group of plaintiffs from Estonia, France, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the US are filing a lawsuit against the European Union on Monday (4 March) to challenge the inclusion of forest biomass in the bloc’s renewable energy directive.

If they get their way, this could deprive the EU of an energy source which currently makes up close to 60% of the bloc’s renewables, more than solar and wind power combined.

The precedent-setting case will be filed with the EU court in Luxembourg today (4 March) by a group of affected individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The group argues that EU institutions have failed to take account of scientific evidence showing that forest biomass harvesting and combustion for energy purposes exacerbates climate change by causing deforestation outside of Europe.

“The treatment of biomass as carbon neutral runs counter to scientific findings” showing that burning wood for energy typically emits 1.5 times more CO2 than coal and 3 times more than natural gas, the plaintiffs point out.

The European Commission declined to comment at this stage, saying it was up to the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg to decide on “the admissibility” of the case.

Last year, the EU adopted an updated version of its renewable energy directive, committing the bloc to source at least 32% of its energy from renewables by 2030. The target is considered a central element of the EU’s goal to cut carbon emissions by 40% by the same date.

But the plaintiffs contend that including forest biomass as a source of renewable energy runs counter to Article 191(1) of the EU treaty, which stipulates that the bloc’s environment policy shall contribute to: “preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment…and in particular combating climate change”.

External link

EurActiv, 4 Mar 2019: EU dragged to court for backing forest biomass as ‘renewable energy’