Repairing what policy is missing out on: a constructive view on prospects and preconditions for sustainable biobased economy options to mitigate and adapt to climate change
Biomass used for energy and materials is, on the one hand, one of the key mitigation options to reach the 1.5 °C GMT (Global Mean Temperature) target set in the Paris Agreement, as highlighted by the IPCC’s reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and many other key analyses. On the other hand, particularly in parts of the European Union, a strong negative connotation has emerged in public debate and European Commission policy, with a particular emphasis on the (presumed) displacement effect in markets and land use. This is a remarkable contrast, because the reasons to use sustainable biomass, on the one hand, and the possibilities and synergies for supplying sustainable biomass, on the other, are underpinned with strong evidence, also providing insights on how displacement issues can be avoided. Sustainable biomass supplies can contribute 20–30% of the future global and European energy supply, leading to reduced overall mitigation costs, including realizing the net CO2 removal from the atmosphere using BECCS concepts.
What is the European Commission planning for polymer innovation? Thus far, have its decisions in this field been misguided? Paul Foulkes-Arellano, founder of Circuthon Consulting, discusses some big questions, the European packaging industry is facing:
- Is the EU about to extinguish polymer innovation in an attempt to appease environmental campaigners?
- Has the Commission misunderstood the genuine carbon reductions achievable through recycling as opposed to other means?
- Ultimately, do politicians have the slightest idea about packaging, or are they only swayed by the lobbyist sitting in front of them?
For its first anniversary, the state of play is not at its best. European plastic packaging manufacturers are very concerned, because not all the Member States have implemented the mandatory requirement of the SUPD in time. This is one of the consequences of the great hurry in which the 2019 Directive was adopted. Besides, the Commission’s guidelines on the scope of the directive were published only four weeks before the deadline, which did not contribute to a harmonized implementation in the EU.
Despite the little clarity given by the Commission, there is still important room for interpretation by the Member States leading to unexpected bias. Several Member States are either going further in the restrictions or provide for exemptions.