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Call for proposals: European policy on Biofuels and Biomass


Wetlands International – European Association is seeking to enhance its contribution to European policy development and implementation in regard to the sustainability of biofuels and biomass, in particular in relation to their impact on wetlands and the climate.

Due to the global nature of energy markets and the impacts of EU policy elsewhere in the world, Wetlands International – European Association focuses on:

  • EU (and relevant Member State) policies and legislation with an impact on biofuels production on peatlands;

  • EU (and relevant Member State) policy discussions on the issue of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC);

  • Impacts of EU (and relevant Member State) policies and legislation on the production of biofuels on peatlands inside and outside the EU;

  • Industry roundtables such as the RSPO, RTRS and RSB;

  • EU (and relevant Member State) policy discussions on the use of biomass for energy production;

  • Impacts of EU biofuels and biomass policies on key producing countries.

    With these Terms of Reference Wetlands International – European Association is seeking proposals from experts in the policy areas outlined above to perform the duties and achieve the results described below. The consultancy should start as soon as possible and end by the 31st of December 2014, with an indicative budget of 16.000 EUR (incl. VAT).

Interested experts should send their CV, a letter (maximum 2 sides of A4) detailing their expertise in the field and a draft budget to by the 18th of April 2014. Proposals received after this date will not be taken into consideration. Only selected proposals will receive a response.


  • Information and guidance materials for relevant government agencies, CSOs and biomass/biofuel producers on environmental and social issues related to biofuel/biomass production on peatlands/wetlands and trade chains;

  • Analysis of ILUC levels in relation to high carbon wetland degradation and development of relevant science-based contributions to joint NGO materials;

  • Analysis of perverse subsidies on uncertified biomass imports and burning of ‘green waste’ and the need for improved certification schemes in this regard;

  • Analysis of the potential role of the biomass sector as a driverof deforestation and forest degradation, especially in swamp forests;

  • Policy briefings, submissions, and presentations as appropriate;

  • Identification of funding options for projects aiming at enhancing the sustainability of biofuels and biomass in relation to wetland issues and participation in the development of proposals.

Required qualifications:

  • Proven capacity and skills in relation to EU biofuel and biomass policy monitoring and analysis;

  • Strong understanding of the forums, industry roundtables, institutions and stakeholders relevant to policy discussions on biofuels and biomass;

  • Good network of relevant contacts;

  • Strong communication skills in English and preferably also in Bahasa Indonesia;

  • Interest to collaborate on fundraising to support and strengthen the campaign;

  • Good knowledge of the Wetlands International network is a plus.

Working Relationships:

Reports to the European Programme Manager and works closely with the Programme Head Climate-smart Land Use of Wetlands International. Liaison as necessary or useful with other team members in the Wetlands International network.

Policy context:

Biomass production on peatlands often requires the drainage of peat, resulting in high CO2 emissions. The current EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) include explicit clauses safeguarding wetlands and peatlands from possible degradation from biofuel production by excluding biofuels and bioliquids made from raw material obtained from land that was peatland in January 2008 from being counted towards emissions reduction targets and from receiving subsidies (unless evidence is provided that the cultivation and harvesting of that raw material does not involve drainage of previously undrained peat soil). Wetlands International successfully lobbied for this when the directives were in development.

Relevant government agencies and stakeholder groups in the EU are, however, insufficiently aware of these safeguards, and how to implement, measure and monitor these. As a result peatland degradation – resulting in enhanced emissions – continues in most EU Member States unabated. Various subsidies for the promotion of biomass/biofuels may perversely result in more peatland degradation and thus in more CO2 emissions.

In addition, the EU imports several kinds of biomass and biofuels from many different countries, ranging from palm oil from Southeast Asia (with 25% of plantations based on peat) to wood pellets from swamp forests in the USA. So far there are no reliable certification mechanisms that would enable the distinction of such products and prevent these from entering the EU market.  Use of palm oil produced on peat for energy results in 8 times more emissions per energy unit than the use of fossil fuel. The swamp forests in the USA would not be logged without the additional income derived from the wood pellets created out of the ‘waste’. As such, the EU policies are triggering more emissions instead of reducing emissions. Climate change is subsidised at the expense of EU tax payers.

Although both the RED and the FQD contain sustainability criteria and minimum greenhouse gas (GHG) saving thresholds, they do not include measures to calculate the impact of indirect land use change (ILUC) which, as discussed above, could lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, large quantities of biofuels with high ILUC impacts, such as those made from palm oil, may be supplied to and used in the EU. The Commission proposal on ILUC from October 2012 acknowledges this problem, and suggests that the estimated indirect land use change emissions (i.e. ILUC factors) should be included in the reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from biofuels under RED and FQD. This proposed measure, however, does not contribute to an improvement of the GHG performance of biofuels as the factors are for Member State reporting purposes only. It also does not reduce the overall GHG emissions of biofuels supplied to the EU. Therefore, the Commission fails to sufficiently address the issues of ILUC impacts in its proposal, and European Parliament votes in 2013 indicate that MEPs are still not aware of the need to account such emissions rather than just report them.

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