EXPRESS #4 - October 23, 2018
Bioenergy is a controversial topic in EU energy policy. It is noteworthy therefore that the
the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an EU advisory body comprising representatives of workers’ and employers’ organisations and other interest groups, has drawn up what it calls an exploratory opinion on Bioeconomy – contributing to achieving the EU’s climate and energy goals and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It has done so following a request from the Austrian Council Presidency.
In its opinion, the EESC concludes that “the bioeconomy creates added economic and social value by producing, converting, and using biological raw material. Furthermore, it is an essential factor to mitigate the impact of climate change, helping to achieve the EU’s climate and energy targets as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
“The bioeconomy involves replacing fossil fuels and fossil feedstock with bio-based energy and raw materials. Economic activities that are based on the production, extraction, conversion and use of biological natural resources are known as bio economy. Waste streams, by-products and residues can be a major source of raw materials.”
How does the bioeconomy help climate, asks the EESC?
“The bioeconomy contributes to climate change mitigation through several mechanisms: sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere in biomass via photosynthesis, storage of carbon in bio-based products and substitution of fossil-based feedstock and products with bio-based ones.”
It notes that “consumers and civil society are essential factors to promote bio economy.”
“Europe needs an active and sustainable forestry management and to promote the use of wood in order to accelerate effective CO2 sequestration”, says Tellervo Kyla-Harakka-Ruonala, rapporteur of the opinion. “Therefore it is important to raise awareness and help consumers make sustainable consumption decisions. We need to explain to our citizens that using high-quality wood furniture and long-lasting wood products in buildings, instead of cheaper synthetic materials, makes a huge difference to our environment.”
The bioeconomy also plays an important role when it comes to transport, states the EESC: “Electrifying transport with energy sources produced from sustainable bio-based energy sources will help to reduce not only CO2 emissions, but also the energy bill and our dependence on foreign energy sources”, according to co-rapporteur Andreas Thurner.
Unfortunately, the “exploratory opinion” of the EESC is quite exploratory indeed. There is no underlying report and no way of knowing how the EESC arrived at its opinion.