Impact of EU Bioenergy Policy on Developing Countries

02-03-2012

Against the background of the renewable energy targets of the European Union, the EUs interest in biomass has considerably increased in recent years, not only for energy crops grown on arable land but also for woody biomass. This brief analyses some of the main impact dimensions with regard to land access, energy and food security and environmental impacts in developing countries. The developing countries most likely to export woody biomass to feed Europe’s demand are west and central African countries as well as Latin American countries. While clear links between the increasing EU demand for wood for energy generation and impacts in developing countries, both negative and positive, need to be drawn on a project level, the additional demand for biomass worldwide will have macro effects. The rising demand for woody biomass energy is likely to raise the global price for wood, thus adding pressure on forests and other ecosystems and driving land use conflicts. More specific risks include deforestation when natural forests are replaced by monoculture plantations and long term impacts on local food and energy security. This brief concludes with potential approaches to tackle these impacts including biomass sustainability criteria, increased efforts towards resource efficiency and support for developing countries to build up good governance mechanisms.

Against the background of the renewable energy targets of the European Union, the EUs interest in biomass has considerably increased in recent years, not only for energy crops grown on arable land but also for woody biomass. This brief analyses some of the main impact dimensions with regard to land access, energy and food security and environmental impacts in developing countries. The developing countries most likely to export woody biomass to feed Europe’s demand are west and central African countries as well as Latin American countries. While clear links between the increasing EU demand for wood for energy generation and impacts in developing countries, both negative and positive, need to be drawn on a project level, the additional demand for biomass worldwide will have macro effects. The rising demand for woody biomass energy is likely to raise the global price for wood, thus adding pressure on forests and other ecosystems and driving land use conflicts. More specific risks include deforestation when natural forests are replaced by monoculture plantations and long term impacts on local food and energy security. This brief concludes with potential approaches to tackle these impacts including biomass sustainability criteria, increased efforts towards resource efficiency and support for developing countries to build up good governance mechanisms.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

WUNDER Stephanie, KAPHENGST Timo, TIMEUS Krista and BERZINS Kristine (ECOLOGIC INSTITUTE, GERMANY)