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EU Biomass Plaintiffs v. European Union

Jurisdiction: European Union

Principle law(s): Directive (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and Supplementing Regulation 2019/807

Side A: Biomass Plaintiffs (Individual ngo)

Side B: European Union (Government)

Core objectives: Whether the European Union's 2018 revised Renewable Energy Directive illegally treats forest biomass as a renewable fuel by not counting CO2 emissions from burning wood fuels.

On Monday, March 4th, 2019, plaintiffs from six countries filed suit against the European Union in the European General Court in Luxembourg to challenge the treatment of forest biomass as a renewable fuel in the European Union’s 2018 revised Renewable Energy Directive (known as RED II). RED II requires EU Member States to achieve an EU-wide target of 32% energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030. The plaintiffs allege that RED II will accelerate widespread forest devastation and significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions by not counting CO2 emissions from burning wood fuels. 

Plaintiffs describe the lawsuit as documenting the environmental, societal, and public health impacts associated with the increased logging, wood pellet manufacturing, and production of biomass energy driven by the RED II forest biomass policy. They allege that the policy is incompatible with the environmental objectives of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and violates the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights (Art. 32 and 57).The plaintiffs are a group of individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Estonia, Ireland, France, Romania, Slovakia, and the United States. The case also may be found under the name Sabo and Others v Parliament and Council. 

On May 6, 2020, the Court dismissed the case on standing grounds, reasoning that the directive is an act of general application, the applicants are not in a situation different from an indeterminate and indeterminable body of EU citizens, and therefore the directive is not of individual concern to them. Plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Justice of the EU.

On January 14, 2021, the Court of Justice rejected the appeal, upholding the lower court decision dismissing the case on standing grounds. The Court of Justice reasoned that the lower court made no error in law in concluding that plaintiffs had not demonstrated that the directive was of individual concern to them.
Case documents

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