On 18th January there were important votes on the Recast of the Renewables Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.
This file deals with a number of issues that are relevant to our commitments on climate change and will help the EU deliver on the Paris Agreement.
Labour MEPs strongly believe that there is still a place for burning wood in the EU energy mix, particularly as a transition fuel towards a primarily renewables driven power supply. Such wood should be primarily be sourced from timber production residues and, in my personal view, should only use stem wood when this is harvested in a carefully controlled manner and where the harvested trees are completely replaced by new growth.
The text that asked for the complete exclusion of stem wood was in any case not adopted by the Parliament.
On the wider issues, Labour MEPs voted for binding Union targets of 35% for the overall share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy and for the share of energy from renewable sources in transport in 2030, to be collectively achieved by Member States through national targets.
Member States need to ensure that the individual share of energy from renewable sources in all forms of transport in 2030 is at least 12 % of the final consumption of energy in transport in that Member State. Labour MEPs called for these renewables to be as sustainable as possible, with a phase out of the most harmful biofuels, and in particular a complete ban of palm oil for biofuels by 2021, while fostering innovation and investment only in more sustainable second generation, advanced biofuels.
Labour MEPs also supported the inclusion of a Just Transition Fund, in this package, calling for various measures of support for individuals and communities, to ensure that workers involved in energy intensive and carbon heavy industry are given the appropriate backing and investment through a readjustment period. However, due to opposition from the Conservatives and the Liberals this fund did not pass in plenary.