Saturday

17th Apr 2021

MEPs approve plan to put cap on older biofuels

  • A driver filling his car with biodiesel in the US (Photo: Rob E)

The European Parliament's environment committee Tuesday (14 April) 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.

The text, agreed after discussions with member states, caps the older types of biofuels, which sometimes replace food crops and may do more environmental harm than good, at 7 percent of the share of total fuel used in transport in the EU.

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

  • When wheat is used for biofuel instead of food, it may increase food prices. (Photo: valdemar.fishmen)

The EP's plenary is expected to hold a final vote later in April, bringing to a close a legislative procedure which started with a proposal from the EU commission in October 2012.

In 2003, the EU decided to promote biofuels as an alternative to diesel and petrol, by agreeing on minimum targets. By 2010, 5.75 percent of all the EU's transport fuel were meant to be biofuels. By 2020, this share is supposed to rise to 10 percent.

However, when setting the targets, the EU did not take into account that certain biofuels made from crops could crowd out food crops, leading to increased food prices.

Several studies have also since emerged showing that some biofuels, including types of biodiesel made from palm oil and soy oil, may lead to more to global warming.

This is due to forests being cut down to clear the land necessary for the cultivation of the crops, eliminating the natural capturing of carbon emissions by trees.

The biofuels that have the most negative side-effects are often called 'first generation' or 'conventional', with the more modern ones being called 'second generation' or 'advanced'.

With the refined target for 2020 – only 7 percent of all transport fuel may be a biofuel of the first generation – the EU is now trying to promote advanced biofuels.

Environmental NGOs say Tuesday's cap “confirms the EU’s initial enthusiasm for biofuels was mistaken”.

Much of the advanced biofuels is still at an experimental stage. The compromise text acknowledged that “they are currently not commercially available in large quantities, in part due to competition for public subsidies with established food crop-based biofuel technologies”.

Member states, which needed nine months longer than the European Parliament to reach a common position, did not want a stricter cap, out of fear that this would cost jobs in Europe's young biofuels industry.

Meanwhile, the EU has not managed to achieve its 2010 target, with the most recent figure from statistical agency Eurostat from 2012 putting the share at 5.1 percent.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us