EU’s ‘exception’ from biomass sustainability rules raises eyebrows

(EurActiv, 3 Apr 2023) The EU’s biomass sustainability rules will apply more loosely in overseas territories like French Guiana to promote economic development there, but the exception inserted in the bloc’s Renewable Energy Directive will lead to increased deforestation, environmentalists say.

EU legislators reached an agreement last week (30 March) on union-wide renewable energy targets for 2030, including biomass.

The EU highly regulates biomass use and prohibits, for example, the logging of primary forests, protected areas and areas rich in biodiversity.

But the EU’s outermost regions – Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands – benefit from an exception.

The exemption applies if the biomass is used for electricity generation, heating or cooling purposes to ensure “access to safe and secure energy, ” provided efforts are made to align with the sustainability criteria set out in the renewables directive.

‘Guianese exception’

In France, the exception is particularly fitting for the activities of the European spaceport – the Guiana Space Centre (CSG).

For months, environmental NGOs have warned against plans to ramp up biofuel production in Guiana, saying it will harm the Amazon rainforest and the climate.

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EurActiv, 3 Apr 2023: EU’s ‘exception’ from biomass sustainability rules raises eyebrows