Sunday

16th Jun 2019

EU to cap biofuel target to protect food

  • Green groups called the bill a 'sop' to the biofuel industry (Photo: European Community, 2006)

The EU intends to cap the contribution made by crop-based biofuels to its renewable energy target under draft legislation tabled on Wednesday (17 October) by the European Commission.

The use of food-based biofuels will be limited to 5 percent towards the EU's 10 percent target for renewable energy sources in the transport sector in a bid to avoid competition with food crops.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The new target is marginally higher than the 4.7 percent level of the EU's fuel consumption which already comes from biofuels.

The most common biofuels to replace petrol and diesel are bioethanol, made from sugar and cereal crops, and biodiesel, which is normally made using vegetable oils.

In a memo published alongside the draft directive, the commission said that around 2 percent of agricultural land in the EU is used for biofuels.

Announcing the bill, EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said: "This proposal will give new incentives for best-performing biofuels. In the future, biofuels will be saving more substantial greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our fuel import bill."

Under existing EU legislation forests and wetlands cannot be converted for biofuel production. The laws also require that biofuels must emit greenhouse gases that are at least 35 percent lower than fossil fuels, a threshold that will rise to 50 percent from 2017.

The new proposals also take on board the concept of indirect land use change (ILUC). The term refers to greenhouse gas emissions caused when agricultural crops are converted to produce biofuels, meaning that other land has to be exploited to produce food.

Connie Hedegaard, the climate action commissioner said that the aim of the legislation is to "invest in biofuels that achieve real emissions cuts and do not compete with food". The EU executive was "sending a clear signal that future increases in biofuels must come from advanced biofuels."

However, the Green group in the European Parliament gave a mixed reaction to the text.

It welcomed the commission's recognition of ILUC, but accused it of having failed to take account of emissions caused by production.

Green energy spokesperson Claude Turmes commented the "failure to take account of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from indirect land use change as part of the greenhouse gas savings threshold under the EU's renewable energy legislation is a major shortcoming and no more than a sop to the biofuel industry."

Claire Coffey, policy adviser at pro-green NGO ActionAid UK, criticised the measures as "tokenistic."

"By not proposing to account for greenhouse gas emissions associated with EU biofuels, the European Commission makes an unacceptable mockery of the EU's commitment to tackling climate change," she said.

The revised legislation will now go before MEPs and ministers before it can be adopted into law, with parliament sources expecting a 2014 implementation date.

Focus

Denmark to be electric cars guinea pig

Talk of electric cars is everywhere at the moment. But taking the prototype from the car show room and turning it into the vehicle of choice for millions of Europeans is a huge task. A project in Denmark will test the waters later this year.

Focus

MEPs agree cap on crop-based biofuels

The EU parliament has capped the amount of crop-based biofuels that can be used to reach EU energy targets amid environmental fears.

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  2. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  3. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  4. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  5. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  6. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  7. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks
  8. EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us