Wednesday

26th Jul 2017

EU to limit controversial biofuels from 2020

  • Workers on palm oil plantation in Guatemala (Photo: Oxfam)

Energy ministers meeting in Cyprus on Monday (17 September) are having a first debate on EU commission plans to cap biofuels made from food crops from 2020 in a bid to limit their impact on soaring food prices.

According to a draft paper seen by EUobserver, the commission for the first time would put a five-percent cap on biofuels made from food or feed such as rapeseed and soy.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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 Commission is of the view that in the period after 2020 biofuels should only be subsidised if they are not produced

from crops used for food and feed," the paper reads.

Current EU law requires ten percent of transport fuels to come from "renewable sources" such as electricity or biofuels by 2020, with the aim of reducing Europe's greenhouse gas emissions.

But the law has come under intense criticism as it indirectly contributes to a current hike in food prices, as less land is available for regular food crops. Soy and maize prices were at all-time highs in July, while the price of cereals and oil remained at peak levels in August.

Cutting forests to make room for more fields to grow biofuel crops is ultimately more damaging to the environment than their intended contribution to CO2 reduction.

"The aim of the current proposal is to start the transition to biofuels that deliver substantial greenhouse gas savings when also estimated indirect land-use change emissions are taken into account," the paper reads.

Oxfam, a London-based NGO fighting speculation in food prices, has estimated that land used to power European cars with biofuels for one year could produce enough wheat and maize to feed 127 million people.

Currently, EU subsidies for crops used for biofuels amount to about €30 per year for each adult. In 2008 alone, about €3bn were spent in tax exemptions and other incentives for biofuel production in the EU.

While the NGO welcomes the change in EU biofuels policy, they warn that waiting until 2020 is too long.

"EU biofuels mandates must be scrapped altogether now," Oxfam expert Marc Olivier Herman said in a press statement. He urged ministers to "resist the backlash from industry and farming lobbies" that will push for the cap to be removed.

EU biofuel policy will increase CO2 emissions, study says

An EU target to produce 10 percent of transport energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 will actually increase the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the bloc unless changes are made, an independent study has said.

EU to cap biofuel target to protect food

The EU intends to cap the contribution made by crop-based biofuels to its renewable energy target under draft legislation tabled on Wednesday.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way