Implementing the Renewable Energy Directive – Sustainability Requirements for Biofuels, the Question of Highly Biodiverse Grasslands

The renewable energy Directive (2009/28/EC) contains targets promoting both renewable energy and renewable transport fuels.

Delivering compliance with these targets will increase demand for both biofuels and other bioliquids. Given the significant potential environmental impact of expanded biofuel feedstock production Directive 2009/28 contains sustainability criteria with which biofuels and bioliquids used to meet the EU targets must comply.

Among the criteria set out in the Directive biofuels must not be grown on land considered to hold highly biodiverse grasslands on or after January 2008. Moreover, with the Directive the Commission is explicitly required to bring forward proposals for defining criteria and geographic ranges for these grasslands.

IEEP, funded by WWF, has launched two new reports aimed at helping stakeholders understand and operationalise the requirements under Directive 2009/28 for the protection of grasslands. Working Papers 1 and 2, below, are intend to help focus these discussions and offer insights to support the wider process for developing sustainability standards for biofuels. The two papers should be read in conjunction.

The Commission consultation on the highly biodiverse grassland criteria closes on February 8th. See here for further information.

For further details of IEEP’s work on bioenergy please contact Catherine Bowyer

Working Paper 1 – Interpreting Grassland Requirements set out within the Directive on Renewable Energy (Directive 2009/28/EC) was commissioned by WWF European Policy Office from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP). It aims to provide a basis for discussion, clarification and interpretation of the criteria for the protection of highly biodiverse grasslands set out in Article 17 of Directive 2009/28/EC on renewable energy. In so doing we hope to offer a basis for the development of an effective and practical system to implement these criteria. 

Working Paper 2 - Operationalising Criteria to Protect Highly Biodiverse Grasslands under the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) builds on the analysis conducted within WP1, and sets out an approach to the implementation of Article 17.3.c of European Community Directive 2009/28/EC aimed at fulfilling the requirements for the protection of highly biodiverse grassland from negative impacts of biofuels production. It was prepared by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), in consultation with experts from across Europe, for WWF. The approach is intended to be both effective and practical, offering a legally sound and robust basis for decision making regarding the origins and grassland impacts of biofuel feedstocks used to meet the targets set in Directive 2009/28/EC.