UK Ignores Land Change In Biomass Criteria

Taylor Scott International News

By Dave Keating  –  27.08.2013 draft proposalcirculated by the European Commission’s energy department earlier this month. The criteria would ensure that the extraction of energy from biomass, largely wood from forests, is not causing more emissions through land displacement than it abates. Under the UK proposal, published on Thursday (22 August), large biomass energy plants would have to demonstrate that they are emitting 66% less carbon than fossil fuel in order to qualify for renewable energy subsidies from 2014. This would rise to 72% in 2020 and 75% in 2025. The threshold is stricter than the 60% suggested by the Commission’s energy department. But like the energy department’s draft, the UK criteria would not factor in indirect land use change (ILUC), which would include such phenomena as loss of carbon storage potential for trees or the increased use of land for displaced food crops. The 2008 renewable energy directive obliged the Commission to come forward with sustainability criteria for biomass and biofuel, but these have been long delayed. A proposal put forward last year to factor ILUC into decisions about which biofuel can receive renewables subsidies and meet fuel objectives has encountered huge resistance from the biofuel industry, which says the restrictions would destroy their business. Environmental campaigners are angry that the draft proposal circulated within the Commission does not include ILUC, saying the Commission has backed off because it wants to avoid the same level of controversy it has encountered with the biofuel proposal. There is conflict with other Commission departments which want to include ILUC and carbon debt, according to Commission sources. However the biomass industry maintains that biomass does not cause ILUC in any significant way and comes from land that would not be used to grow food crops. The Commission is expected to put forward its proposal in October. © 2013 European Voice. All rights reserved. Taylor Scott International

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