In recognition of the daunting global sustainability challenges we face, the European Green Deal is one of the flagship initiatives of the new European Commission. Understandably, groundbreaking new proposals like the Climate Law are front and centre in Brussels. The commitment shown by EU policymakers is to be applauded but we must also get the technical details of all legislation right; EU energy laws must be fit for purpose.

As the precursor to the European Green Deal, 2018’s Clean Energy Package took important first steps on the journey to climate neutrality. Making sure that its provisions enable a green transition will contribute to the EU meeting its objectives under the European Green Deal. That is why the discussions between the European Commission, national authorities and stakeholders on how to implement the new sustainability criteria for biomass under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED2) are so important.

The international science community and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) support biomass as renewable energy and recognize the value of sustainable forestry in addressing climate change. Research shows that the carbon intensity of wood biomass electricity can be up to 85% lower than that of coal-based electricity. Sustainable biomass has proven to be a fast and reliable way to decarbonise the economy thanks to its ability to both replace coal on the grid and provide clean baseload power that in turn supports the building of other renewable technologies. More exciting yet is the possibility of teaming bioenergy with carbon capture and storage – known as BECCS – to create negative emissions technology. If we cannot totally decarbonize all sectors of our economy by 2050, then it is critical that we develop carbon-negative solutions to offset the emissions that remain.

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