Thursday

16th Aug 2018

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. Salvini questions EU 'constraints' after bridge collapse
  2. Bosnian Serbs to rewrite 1995 Srebrenica genocide report
  3. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  4. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  5. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  6. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  7. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  8. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  2. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate
  3. EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU
  4. How long can Bulgaria keep facing both East and West?
  5. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  6. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  7. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  8. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us