Saturday

18th Nov 2017

OECD questions EU rush to boost biofuels

The EU's aim to boost the use of biofuels as part of wider plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has received a serious blow from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), grouping the world's 30 most developed countries.

The Paris-based body argues that state subsidies for biofuels could lead to food price hikes and damage to forests and natural habitats while its impact in terms of the fight against climate change may be only limited.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The current push to expand the use of biofuels is creating unsustainable tensions that will disrupt markets without generating significant environmental benefits," an OECD study to be unveiled on Tuesday (11 September) says, according to the Financial Times.

The document is set to be discussed by ministers and government experts from the member countries - among them 19 EU states.

It puts a serious question mark over the union's agreed commitment to secure that 10 percent of transport fuels comes from biofuels by 2020.

The goal is part of a key climate change package agreed by EU leaders in March, with German chancellor Angela Merkel - chairing the talks as the bloc's then president - suggesting that state subsidies as well as clearly set thresholds are crucial for the new sector and environment-friendly technologies to develop.

But according to the OECD report, biofuels would cut energy-related emissions by a maximum of 3 percent while they would most likely mean a huge cost for taxpayers.

The EU could end up paying ten times more than the US for incentives to boost the production of ethanol.

At the moment, Washington puts aside $7bn a year meaning it costs over $500 for each tonne of carbon dioxide that is avoided.

The authors of the study point out that state subsidies - instead of adequate prices for biofuels in the market - would subsequently create pressure to replace forests or wetlands with farms for bio-energy crops.

Moreover, the experts predict that any global shift towards biofuels would lead to soaring food prices, something that would most strongly affect developing countries.

Instead, they urge governments to phase out biofuel subsidies, using "technology-neutral" carbon taxes so that the markets find the best ways of reducing greenhouse gases.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

EU commission wants 'credible' tax haven blacklist

The EU's finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters that he wants a credible EU blacklist of tax havens following the latest media tax avoidance revelations of the wealthy elite in the Paradise Papers.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse