Wednesday

12th May 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

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. Israeli rockets kill 20 people in Gaza retaliation
  2. No more EU expulsions likely over Russia bomb attacks
  3. EU ready to ignore Hungary veto on Hong Kong
  4. Borrell admits EU neglect of Western Balkans
  5. Macron accused of 'cowardice and deceit' in military letter
  6. EU citizens in UK applying for settled status face legal limbo
  7. Netherlands gives €2bn to offshore carbon storage project
  8. Germany will allow Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all ages

EU Commission methane plan lacks binding agriculture targets

The new European Commission strategy on slashing methane emissions focuses first on obtaining better data. Critics say it is a missed opportunity to impose targets and other binding measures on agriculture, the largest single emitter.

France shuts oldest reactor amid Macron climate pledges

France's oldest nuclear power plant finally closed on Tuesday, one day after president Emmanuel Macron pledged to speed up the country's transition to a greener economy responding to the proposals from the French citizens' convention on climate.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Russia penetrated Merkel's 'inner circle', Khodorkovsky says
  2. First recovery euros could be paid out in July
  3. Commission wants help for Italy after weekend's migrant arrivals
  4. Mercosur trade deal will fuel 'poison pesticides' back into EU
  5. Can new Iran talks avoid mistakes of the original JCPOA?
  6. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  7. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  8. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us