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Criteria for sustainable biomass production

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C. Hamelinck
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This report describes the results of work that has been done by the “Sustainable production of biomass” project group on formulating sustainability criteria for the production and processing of biomass for energy, fuels and chemistry. The project group compiled a set of generic sustainability criteria and corresponding sustainability indicators which are divided in to six themes:

greenhouse gas balance
competition with food, local energy supply, medicines and building materials
biodiversity
economic prosperity
social well-being
environment.

The first three themes are specific themes, relevant for biomass. The last three themes relate to the triple P approach (people, planet, profit), which are the starting points for corporate social responsibility. The authors acknowledge that the proposed sustainablility criteria must be integrated into political and policy frameworks at the national, European and global levels, although doing this lies beyond the scope of this research assignment. The following recommendations are made:

the Dutch government and other EU countries should take the initiative in setting up national and/or worldwide monitoring programmes that can recognise the negative effects that an increases in biomass production could have on ecological, social and/or economic systems
it is important that sustainability criteria are also developed for food and cattle feed to prevent shift effects taking place which only focus on biomass for fuel
it is essential that there is a careful translation of the sustainability criteria into policy instruments that are dependent on the extent to which greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced
it is necessary to develop the proposed indicators further to enable integration into government policy.