Pitfalls and Potentials: The Role of Bioenergy in the EU Climate and Energy Policy Post 2020

European Governments are increasingly relying on bioenergy as a cheap way to meet targets for renewable energy. Bioenergy represented 62% of EU’s renewable energy use in 2012. But new evidence on the real climate impacts and other environmental and social impacts of bioenergy has made its use increasingly controversial. 

Sustainable bioenergy has a role to play in Europe’s transition to an energy system based on renewable energy and energy efficiency. However, to avoid serious negative consequences for carbon emissions, biodiversity and land conflicts, the EU should introduce four main safeguards for bioenergy use as part of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy policies:

  • introduce a cap to limit the use of biomass for energy production to levels that can be sustainably supplied;
  • ensure efficient and optimal use of biomass resources, in line with the principle of cascading use;
  • include correct carbon accounting for biomass;
  • introduce comprehensive binding sustainability criteria.