Thursday

19th Oct 2017

EU tries to reduce share of 'food-wasting' biofuels

The European Commission is proposing to further cut the share of traditional types of biofuels, discredited due to harmful effects on food prices, the environment and climate change.

“We should gradually phase out first-generation of food-wasting biofuels,” energy commissioner Maros Sefcovic told journalists on Tuesday (29 November), a day ahead of presenting a “mega-package” of energy-related measures.

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 European Union embraced biofuels, as an alternative to petrol and diesel, in 2003.

However, in recent years biofuels made from food crops have been linked to food price rises and in some cases to greater global warming contributions than fossil fuels they replaced.

Last year, European legislators adopted legislation aimed at steering investors towards biofuels whose production did not compete with food production, by setting a new, more refined, target.

Biofuels in Europe come in two categories: traditional or first-generation, and advanced or second-generation.

In 2003, member states agreed that by 2020, 10 percent of all of the transport fuel used in the EU, should be biofuels.

According to 2014 figures from Eurostat, on average only 5.9 percent of transport fuel was from a renewable energy source – which includes not only biofuels, but also hydrogen and 'green' electricity.

In the United States, that figure was already 7.1 percent in 2012.

The original 2020 target still stands, but only 7 percent of all transport fuels may be first-generation biofuels.

The commission now wants to further promote second-generation biofuels with a new 2030 target.

“We are proposing that the food-based biofuels should be gradually phased out in a way that by 2030 they should not represent more than 3.8 percent,” said Sefcovic.

Advanced biofuels should represent 6.8 percent by 2030.

Sefcovic said: “we did a very thorough impact assessment and we tested different scenarios. This was the result which was the most optimal, based on the current situation, and expectation of technological developments.”

But the target must gain support from the European Parliament and member states.

National governments particularly may be reluctant to adopt another target so soon after the previous one, given their sensitivity to pleas from Europe's relatively young biofuels industry, which made considerable investments in first-generation biofuels.

Industry feels 'betrayed'

A Brussels-based biofuels lobby group has responded with outrage to the commission's proposal.

"The biofuel sector feel betrayed by the commission because of its complete disregard for the investments made in good faith on the basis of EU policy," said the European renewable ethanol association in an e-mailed statement.

The Transport & Environment lobby group meanwhile said the phase-out of food-based biofuels was not going fast enough.

The environmentalist group blamed the commission for "backtracking on its commitment to promote the electrification of transport".

MEPs approve plan to put cap on older biofuels

The European Parliament's environment committee Tuesday approved a plan to try and steer investors away from traditional types of biofuels that have had negative side-effects on food prices, environment and climate change.

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.

Investigation

Commission still silent on Hungarian nuclear contract

The EU executive has still not explained why it accepted that a contract with Russia to extend the Paks plant could be awarded without a public tender, and why commissioner Oettinger travelled with a lobbyist working for the Hungarian government.

Focus

Indoor air quality on EU building agenda for first time

MEPs will debate amendments to new EU building regulations next week, intended to improve energy efficiency but which could also see indoor air quality become a mandatory criteria for the first time.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs and states agree on CO2 exemption for flights
  2. Spanish government to decide Saturday on Catalonia measures
  3. EU court confirms freezing of Yanukovych funds
  4. UK PM appeals to EU citizens
  5. Catalan leader sends independence ultimatum
  6. Madrid eyes early elections as solution to Catalan crisis
  7. Merkel starts coalition talks to form government by December
  8. Iceland confirms long-standing EU opposition, poll shows

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year