Reality Check on EU Bioenergy targets, 19 - 20 May 2008, Brussels
In the EU Commission’s energy and climate change package of January 10, 2007 renewable and bioenergy policies have taken an important step forward. The package established the target that 20 percent of all EU energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020. It also established a “minimum target” of 10 percent of the petrol and diesel market to be represented by biofuels by 2020. At the spring meeting of the European Council in Brussels on March 8–9, 2007, the EU heads of state and government endorsed both targets as binding, under the condition of sustainable production to the 10% biofuel target.
In 2008 the Commission proposed a Directive on the use of renewable energies is likely to have significant impacts. It covers the three renewable energy sectors of electricity, heating and cooling as well as biofuels. It would amend the Directive 2003/30/ EC on biofuels and introduce the 10% biofuel target for 2020. With regard to bioenergy, the main elements of the proposal are provisions on the sustainability of biofuels, how to meet the 20% target, a burden sharing of how the 20% target could be divided among Member States and the requirement of national action plans.
However, there is growing public debate about the potentially negative impacts of the European biofuel targets, which have been analysed and described by many recent studies*. Centre of the concern is that the substantial rise in the use of biomass from agriculture, forestry and waste for producing energy can result in negative ecological impacts, changing land-use patterns, socio-economic impacts and additional GHG emissions. Moreover, since meeting the ambitious EU bioenergy targets will require a considerable amount of imports, the European bioenergy policy has to take impacts on international level into account.
Aim and objectives of the conference
In the light of the recent developments in bioenergy policy, the conference “Reality Check on EU Bioenergy targets” will provide a forum to discuss the future of Europe’s bioenergy production and use from a socio-economic and policy perspective with experts and stakeholders from science, administrative bodies and NGOs. The outcomes of the conference will result in science based recommendations for further policy making as well as the identification of research needs.
The conference is organized as part of the Agrinergy project. AGRINERGY is a specific support action under the 6th EU Framework Research Programme that runs from May 2007 to November 2009. The project was launched to analyse and understand the socio-economic, environmental and societal issues of EU bioenergy policies and assesses the effects on environmental policies, the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the development of sustainable rural development. The project also builds a link to international trade of biomass and its respective environmental and social impacts. Previous to the conference, a survey and three background notes on trade, rural development and measures/policies for sustainable bioenergy supply were prepared that served as input to an expert workshop in November 2007 in Brussels. The conference builds on the recommendations and open questions developed in this context.
* E.g. OECD 2007: „Biofuels – Is the cure worse than the disease?”, Richard Doornbosch and Ronald Steenblik, Paris, September 2007; JRC 2008: unpublished biofuels working paper on the impacts and costs of the EU biofuel policy (see Financial Times, January 14, 2008 „EU scientists query bloc’s biofuel strategy“ and http://www.euractiv.com/en/transport/commission-scientists-blast-eu-biofuels-policy/article-169668).