Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"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.

News in Brief

  1. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  2. Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  3. Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  4. Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president
  5. Putin: Russia will help Africa without 'conditions'
  6. Almost 200 arrests in Catalonia independence protests
  7. Report: Russian hackers used Iranian cover to attack UK
  8. Next EU economy chief calls for looser budget policies

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  2. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  3. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  4. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  5. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  6. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  7. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK
  8. EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us