Setting the suitable course for sustainable biomass in Europe

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In recognition of the daunting international sustainability challenges we face, the European Green Deal is among the flagship initiatives of the brand new European Commission. Understandably, groundbreaking new proposals just like the Climate Law are entrance and centre in Brussels. The dedication proven by EU policymakers is to be applauded however we should additionally get the technical particulars of all laws proper; EU power legal guidelines should be match for goal.

As the precursor to the European Green Deal, 2018’s Clean Energy Package took essential first steps on the journey to local weather neutrality. Making certain that its provisions allow a inexperienced transition will contribute to the EU assembly its aims below the European Green Deal. That is why the discussions between the European Commission, nationwide authorities and stakeholders on how you can implement the brand new sustainability standards for biomass below the Renewable Energy Directive (RED2) are so essential.

The worldwide science group and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) help biomass as renewable power and acknowledge the worth of sustainable forestry in addressing local weather change. Research exhibits that the carbon depth of wooden biomass electrical energy might be as much as 85% decrease than that of coal-based electrical energy. Sustainable biomass has confirmed to be a quick and dependable solution to decarbonise the financial system because of its potential to each substitute coal on the grid and supply clear baseload energy that in flip helps the constructing of different renewable applied sciences. More thrilling but is the potential of teaming bioenergy with carbon seize and storage – referred to as BECCS – to create damaging emissions expertise. If we can not completely decarbonize all sectors of our financial system by 2050, then it’s important that we develop carbon-negative options to offset the emissions that stay.

The EU’s new 2030 biodiversity technique accurately prioritizes sustainable bioenergy as one of many options to combat local weather change. The latest report from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBL additionally confirmed the important function of woody biomass within the power transition.

Biomass producers akin to Enviva are satisfied that deforestation is a crucial subject to be addressed globally if we’re severe about local weather neutrality by 2050. Ensuring that the biomass trade contributes each to forest progress and the availability of renewable power sources for Europe is essential. There are already conservation alliances with main NGOs, agreements to guard and improve biodiversity and demanding certification schemes in place. The EU ought to additional encourage and improve them, as it’s doing with RED2.

The forthcoming steerage on the implementation of the RED2 standards associated to biomass ought to, subsequently, guarantee adherence to the intent of these standards. This consists of upholding the rules of a regional risk-based approach, for instance by means of the acceptance of well-established, efficient, and implementable sustainability verification strategies, such because the Sustainable Biomass Programme.

In the U.S. Southeast the place Enviva operates, the forest financial system is pushed by demand for high-quality timber and pulp for paper and paper merchandise. This is a longtime and thriving trade which offers 1/fifth of the timber that’s used globally annually. It might really feel counterintuitive however the extra this trade prospers the extra forests develop. Over the final 25 years, the forest within the U.S. Southeast has grown by 40%, making it some of the vigorous areas of forest progress on this planet. Further, biomass accounts for under round 3% of the annual forest harvest whereas offering an essential income supply that helps forest house owners proceed to develop the general forest space.

The developed forest financial system within the U.S. Southeast means the very best high quality wooden goes to the premium industries, whereas Enviva purchases low-value wooden akin to treetops, sawmill residue and warped or diseased timber and turns that into wooden pellets that may generate a reliable and renewable supply of energy and warmth. Forests within the U.S. Southeast are usually not grown nor being minimize down solely for bioenergy use in Europe. Recognized certification techniques be certain that woody biomass imported into Europe solely comes from sustainable forests and the market ensures that solely the bottom high quality and worth wooden is utilized for bioenergy the place it can’t be used elsewhere. The implementation of RED2 must mirror such greatest practices that exist already in locations just like the U.S. Southeast.

Europe’s quest to cut back CO2 emissions by changing coal allows non-public landowners within the Southeastern U.S., who owns 86% of U.S. forests, to discover a use for wooden fibre that’s not appropriate for different industries. Knowing that there’s additionally a marketplace for second-tier wooden is an extra push for forest house owners to proceed planting timber. Europe’s consumption of woody biomass, subsequently, delivers confirmed sustainability and local weather advantages. This mutually helpful dynamic has created a virtuous circle, connecting European demand with an financial incentive construction within the U.S. Southeast that results in extra timber being planted and sustainably managed. The right implementation of RED2 will assist maintain this virtuous circle alive. The time to set the suitable course is now.