EU states ask for expanded biomass action plan

By Susanne Retka Schill
Delegations from six member states of the European Union have jointly called for a new biomass action plan to supplement the one drawn up in 2005 to answer concerns being raised in the chemical, construction and packaging industries.

In a Dec. 14 memorandum to the Council of the European Union, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and Luxembourg said a new plan should "enable a coherent strategy to be drawn up at a European level to promote all uses of renewable resources produced by agriculture and forestry." The 2005 strategic plan for biomass and a 2006 strategy for biofuels don't mention industrial uses of biomass. Specific measures proposed in the memorandum include eco-labeling, a change in state aid rules and tax breaks to encourage and reward the use of raw materials that have a positive link with climate policy, research, and incentives for biomass crops while balancing food needs and environmental sustainability.

The six-state memorandum followed industry criticisms of the EU renewable energy plans. For example, the European Biomass Association and the Confederation of European Paper Industries issued a joint statement a few days before the six-state memorandum was released, recommending existing industries should be taken into account. "The increasing demand for solid biomass for energy purposes cannot be met only by European forestry," the joint statement said, while calling for new incentives for perennial energy crops. It also requested that the efficiency of biomass-based energy production become a priority, "knowing that sometimes the same biomass will be used for all sectors of heat, electricity and transportation biofuels."

A discussion of the European Union biomass policies, and links to governmental and organizational policy statements can be found at