Disappointing compromises after vote in EU Parliament

Disappointment prevails after the vote in Strasbourg on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). MEPs have failed to advance energy solutions that will solve the climate and biodiversity crises together.

Wood is burnt

Wood can be used as a resource in a much more sensible and climate-friendly way than burning it.

© Mira Bell
small hydropower plant

To renew our reliance on energy from hydropower also runs counter to the EU Water Framework Directive.

© Ulrich Eichelmann/Riverwatch
Marilena, Bruna and Amelie in Strasbourg

Up until shortly before the vote, EuroNatur staff were still trying to convince MEPs of the importance of a sustainable energy transition.

© Mira Bell

The European Parliament voted on the revised Renewable Energy Directive on 14 September. While ending subsidies for wood burning for electricity generation was approved, this is a small step that will not be sufficient to end the burning of forests. In particular, primary wood biomass (whole tree trunks from forests) is still considered renewable energy. Capping the energy share of primary wood biomass  to not exceed the average of the past five years is not enough to end forests from being cut. The current harvesting of wood from European forests is destructive, with more than 80% of forest habitats in Europe being degraded. Doing this in the name of climate protection is fraud. Europe's natural forests are already under massive pressure. In Estonia and Finland, for example, but also in the Romanian Carpathians, huge areas of valuable forests have recently been felled - with subsidies from Brussels.

Last Wednesday's vote does not send a good signal for Europe's rivers neither. The European Parliament failed to establish real sustainability criteria for currently built dams and to halt the construction of new dams, includig small hydropower plants, whose energy contribution is negligible and whose negative impacts on river ecosystems are tremendous. With rivers drying out and river ecosystems in Europe collapsing as a result of climate change and other human activities, the idea of further destroying European rivers by damming them is negligence and set us up for serious problems, such as water shortages.

"The decisions on woody biomass, hydropower and biofuel cultivation are bitter setbacks," says Bruna Campos, Senior Policy Manager at EuroNatur. "This revision of the Renewable Energy Directive won‘t enable us to have the real renewables needed to fight the energy crisis." EuroNatur and other conservation organisations have been campaigning for a truly sustainable energy transition in the EU in the run-up to the vote, with a lot of engagement and expertise. Find out more on our social media and website: red4nature.eu


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