Stellungnahme des Ausschusses: Bioeconomy – contributing to achieving the EU's climate and energy goals and the UN's sustainable development goals (exploratory opinion requested by the Austrian Presidency)
The EESC considers that the bioeconomy is about creating added value for society by producing, converting and using biological natural resources. The transition to carbon-neutrality and circularity will increasingly act as a driver for the bioeconomy, as a sustainable bioeconomy has the potential to generate economic, social and climate benefits simultaneously.
The EESC points out that the bioeconomy contributes to climate change mitigation in several ways: by sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere in biomass, by storing carbon in bio-based products and by substituting fossil-based feedstocks and products with bio-based ones.
The Committee also points out that the bioeconomy contributes to the EU's climate and energy targets by replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy in electricity production, in heating and cooling and in transport. It also contributes to energy efficiency and the security of energy supply.
The EESC is convinced that the bioeconomy plays a vital role in achieving the overall economic, environmental and social goals called for in the UN Agenda 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs). The bioeconomy's role is closely related to goals pertaining to industry and agriculture and to the creation of jobs in these areas.
The Committee calls for the EU Bioeconomy Strategy to be adapted in order to provide, in line with economic, environmental and social sustainability, the most favourable conditions for the European bioeconomy to create a competitive edge for the EU.
The EESC emphasises that policy-makers must promote sustainable biomass production and mobilisation in the EU and ensure a stable, reliable and coherent framework for investments in the bioeconomy throughout value chains. Furthermore, policy-makers should enhance the demand for bio-based products via public procurement, and adopt a coherent framework for technical, safety and state aid rules to provide a level playing field for bio-based products.
The EESC considers research and innovation to be key for the development of a future-proof bioeconomy. The innovation efforts promoted by the Bioeconomy Strategy should thus be continued, including the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).
The Committee underlines the crucial role of education, advisory services, knowledge transfer and training for ensuring that workers and entrepreneurs have the necessary information and skills. People should be well-informed about the bioeconomy and made aware of their responsibilities so that they can be active consumers and make sustainable consumption decisions.
The EESC stresses that proper infrastructure is a prerequisite for the bioeconomy and requires adequate funding. Efficient transport systems are needed to enable access to raw materials and the distribution of products to markets.
The EESC recommends that the EU should strive for a global pricing system for carbon emissions, which would be a neutral and effective way of promoting the bioeconomy and bringing all market players on board to mitigate climate change.
The EESC is convinced that involving civil society in bioeconomy initiatives and decision-making processes is paramount. The Committee stresses that it is vital to ensure that the transition to a low-carbon economy takes place fairly.
The EESC highlights that a sustainable bioeconomy can only succeed by adopting a cross-sectoral approach. Coherence and coordination between the various EU policies and objectives are therefore needed. It is also important to ensure that measures at Member State level are coherent.