Bioenergy Europe welcomes the €750 billion Recovery Fund proposal announced by the European Commission on 27 May. The recovery plan entails a considerable share of the foreseen stimulus packages aimed at supporting the EU’s green transition.
It is worth reminding that the COVID-19 crisis has triggered an unprecedented drop in electricity demand, consumption of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas - and GHG emissions. Global energy demand in the first quarter of 2020 (Q1 2020) declined by 3.8%, or 150 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), compared to the same period in 2019.
However, past economic setbacks such as the 2008/2009 financial crisis have taught us that demand for fossil fuel slows down only for a short period. Governments’ tendency to artificially maintain low prices of oil during the recovery phases, resulted in a rapid peak back to pre-crisis levels and beyond, with a dramatic increase of GHG emissions. In short, keeping low oil prices will have the adverse effect of further delaying the already-strenuous fossil fuels phase-out. The EU cannot afford to repeat such mistakes and miss this opportunity to concretely tackle the challenge of climate change. We urge decision-makers to reconsider the optimal recovery pathway.
Coherent and comprehensive stimulus packages prioritizing sustainable investments is essential to revitalize the EU’s economy. Most Importantly, they also represent a unique opportunity to advance the EU’s reconstruction towards a more resilient, sustainable, and climate-friendly economic and societal model.
To capitalize on this opportunity, the overarching principle laid by the EU Green Deal must be guaranteed, and targeted investments in assets enabling green transition must be reinforced. In line with the Commission’s proposal, today more than ever, the ‘Do no harm’ principle should be the reference point of any future action. Thus, a greater share of investments and state aid for recovery should be allocated to the renewables sector and a clear reference to climate conditionality should be included.
The bioenergy sector will be a key driving force in this process. Sustainable bioenergy has the unique feature of simultaneously decarbonising electricity, heating and cooling, and transport sectors, which represents an ideal condition to facilitate sector integration. Besides, the EU is the world technology leader when it comes to bioenergy, with 74% of world manufacturers and suppliers located in Europe. Investments in this sector will boost job creation and economic growth at the regional level and will ultimately contribute to the rebound of the economy and coherent regional development. With this Paper, Bioenergy Europe wishes to highlight the contribution of the bioenergy sector to the key elements of the proposed Plan while putting forward a set of recommendations urging policy makers to refine some other core elements.
The full paper is available for download below.
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