Saturday

23rd Nov 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. UK misses UN deadline to return Chagos Islands
  2. PM: Greece will 'shut door' to migrants without rights
  3. CDU leader offers to quit if party doesn't back her
  4. Serbian president confirms Russia spy video
  5. UK to repatriate 'Islamic State' orphans
  6. Man arrested over Maltese journalist murder free on bail
  7. Children with disabilities in Bulgaria isolated, report says
  8. WHO: 80 percent of adolescents don't exercise enough

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us