Biomethane Report – High EU biomethane target unrealistic and unsustainable

22nd Nov 23 by Vera Hoveling

Our latest report shows EU ambitions for biomethane are both unrealistic and unsustainable.

Feedback EU published a new report today titled “Biomethane: setting a target that is fit for food and the climate”. Our report shows that the EU plan to ramp up biomethane production tenfold by 2030 from its current level is both unrealistic and unsustainable.

Read the full press release here.

Biomethane is a type of gas produced from organic materials known as “feedstocks”, such as maize, straw, food waste and manure. It is often presented as a “green” alternative to fossil fuels by its industry proponents. However, Feedback EU’s analysis shows that the use of most of these feedstocks at the volumes proposed comes with significant downsides and unintended consequences such as encouraging more livestock production and food-feed-fuel competition.

Read the full report here.

The EU biomethane target

The 35bcm biomethane target was set by the European Commission in the face of enormous political pressure to in part wean the EU off Russian gas imports. No impact assessment was carried out on the target. The only detailed analysis of the feedstocks needed to produce 35bcm of biomethane was done by the gas industry. Feedback’s independent and in-depth analysis of the feedstock assumptions underlying the 35bcm biomethane target shows that it will simply be unachievable, at best. At worst, it will lock in dangerously unsustainable agricultural, land use and energy practices and could be an environmental disaster in the making.

Feedback’s research also draws attention to the problem of methane leakage: at current rates, leakage of the extremely powerful greenhouse gas methane from the biomethane supply chain results in potentially higher emissions of methane per unit of gas than is the case for fossil gas. As a consequence, the 35bcm biomethane target may well end up contributing to climate change as opposed to helping to mitigate it.

Joint letter to reject the EU biomethane target

We call to Member States’ Representatives to reject a 35bcm biomethane target in the Gas and hydrogen markets Regulation in a joint letter co-signed by: GreenPeace, Oxfam International, The European Environmental Bureau, The Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Compassion In World Farming, The Environmental Investigation Agency, Birdlife International, Food & Water Action Europe, Changing Markets Foundation, Biofuelwatch, NOAH, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Ecologistas en Acción and the Gas No Es Solución Network. We request a target-setting process that is independent, evidence-based and conducted inconjunction with sustainable food and land use experts to ensure that EU biomethane production helps rather than hinders climate and sustainability goals.

Read the joint letter here.


Feedback EU is organising a webinar on biomethane on 6 December (3-5pm CET). The webinar is entitled “Biomethane: Considerations for setting a target fit for the climate and for our food system” with the aim of adding independent and scientific perspectives to the debate around the 35bcm biomethane target.

Andreas Graf of Agora Energiewende will present key findings of their “Breaking free from fossil gas” report which is based on detailed sectoral modelling of the energy, buildings and industry sectors. Karen Luyckx will present the findings of the research for Feedback EU into the feedstock assumptions behind the 35bcm biomethane target.

To register for the webinar, please use this link. Or read more about the webinar here.

Feedback EUs response

Frank Mechielsen, Director of Feedback EU said: “a 35bcm target and lack of strong legal safeguards regarding unsustainable feedstock is not only completely unrealistic but, if made binding, would lead to a “scramble for feedstocks” causing unintended knock-on and lock-in effects. Member States must reject the target or face unintended consequences which will impact on the EU’s ability to meet its food security and climate commitments over the coming decades.”

Karen Luyckx, the technical advisor who conducted the research said: “Our analysis shows that the 35bcm biomethane target has been poorly thought through and fails to take into account the best expert advice. In contrast, a more conservative target, set in conjunction with independent sustainable food system experts – starting with the Commission’s own Chief Scientific Advisers – could allow biomethane to play its role in decarbonizing some of the most energy-intensive sectors. Let us set a new biomethane target, one that allows it to play its important but niche role, in a truly decarbonized future, within a sustainable, healthy and just food system”.


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