Last update : 28.10.2010
Bioenergy: A carbon accounting time bomb
BirdLife, EEB, Transport & Environment
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The European Union (EU) established a 20% target for renewable energy use by 2020 and a 10% target for renewables in the transport sector by 2020. Bioenergy, including solid biomass and waste, is expected to represent 60% of the EU’s renewable energy use and biofuels is expected to cover most of the 10% renewable energy use in transport. Widely perceived as carbon neutral, new studies reveal that these policies could be increasing emissions compared to fossil fuels. Two studies commissioned by BirdLife International, EEB, and T&E show that Europe has a major carbon accounting problem, threatening the credibility of two flagship EU environmental policies: the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Emissions Trading Scheme. Under EU accounting rules, burning bioenergy is considered to be “carbon neutral” despite the release of significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the short-medium term, turning bioenergy into a misguided policy tool for achieving emissions reductions. The best available scientific evidence shows that the carbon costs of many bioenergy options are high. Bioenergy causes losses of carbon to the atmosphere from vegetation and soils when biomass is harvested. And biofuels cause losses of carbon to the atmosphere when land is converted - either directly or indirectly - to meet the increased demand for agricultural crops.
Added on 28 July 2010
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