European Parliament Vote Will Reduce Impacts But Still More Work to Do

EU Addresses Efficiency Standards, But Not Wildlife or Habitat Concerns

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the European Union Parliament voted to set new renewable energy targets for 2020-2030. Included in the new targets are heightened efficiency requirements for power plants that use biomass — improving greenhouse gas performance. However, the parliament did not include any sustainable sourcing standards on the biomass they use, some of which comes from extremely diverse forests in various states in the Southeastern United States. A ramp up in demand for biomass from this region would put added pressure on some of these forests, potentially resulting in a loss of high conservation value ecosystems and resulting in conversion of natural forests to intensively managed plantations and impacting the population health of numerous species of wildlife.

Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

“Sustainably sourced biomass can play an important role in a clean energy future and we applaud the EU Parliament for their move to limit biomass use to high efficiency, heat and power operations. This is an important step towards significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from biomass combustion. We believe that more work is necessary to reduce unintended impacts on wildlife and natural resources, especially in the American Southeast, and we look forward to working further with the Parliament to develop sustainability standards for biomass, as recommended by top U.S. scientists, including world-renowned experts like E.O. Wilson, Thomas Lovejoy, and Stuart Pimm.

“We strongly encourage the EU Parliament to collaborate with the National Wildlife Federation and other leading science-based organizations to develop and adopt protections for habitat and wildlife — and we hope the UK will follow suit. With forward-looking sustainability standards, the demand for biomass could help restore ecosystems, and conserve existing habitat. The American scientific community stands ready to help reduce impacts on highly-biodiverse or at-risk ecosystems like wetland forests and protecting sensitive species such as the bobwhite quail. We hope that the EU will continue to take steps to address these scientists’ concerns.” 

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