EU Reshapes Its Biofuels Policy
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) Jettisons indirect land use change for now, citing poor data visibility; caps food-crop biofuels to 7%; limits proposed Directives to 2020. In Brussels, the European Parliament’s Environmental Committee has voted this week to endorse the Council’s proposed compromise on reform of the EU biofuels policy, and indirect land use change. The final vote was 51 votes in favor, 12 against, and 1 abstention, and is expected to be approved by Parliament’s Plenary later this month.
Current legislation requires EU member states to ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. The compromise approved today states that first-generation biofuels (from crops grown on agricultural land) should account for up to 7% of final energy consumption in transport by 2020. The overall target is 10 percent.
ILUC is out, for now
Taking into account indirect land-use changes (iLUC factors) as a penalty for European biofuels was rejected because of an insufficient scientific basis.
However, fuel suppliers will report the estimated level of emissions caused by freeing up more land to grow food crops needed when land has been switched to biofuel crop production, known as indirect land-use change (ILUC) to EU countries and the Commission. The Commission will then report and publish data about these ILUC-related emissions.
Schindler (Norbert Schindler, a member of the Bundestag and Chairman of the BDBe, the German ethanol trade organization) emphasises: “The CO2 emissions of cars must be lowered. But the answer is not to ban driving cars. All available means including biofuels, electric vehicles and efficiency improvements must be used. Germany, with its ongoing obligation to lower CO2 emissions of fuels, is on the right path. This path also has to be enforced in the other EU member states.”
The NFU (National Farmers Union) believes that the ‘food vs. fuel’ basis for the legislation is invalid as the stable, reliable and domestic supply high-protein animal feed made from the biofuel processing co-product is vital for UK livestock producers.
The NFU blamed the debate over indirect land use change, charging that “This prolonged and polarised debate on ILUC has reduced the level of ambition in Europe to promote biofuels, and the NFU has continued to reiterate the significant benefits sustainable biofuels have on the environment and the economy.”
Furthermore, it says with Europe signalling farmers to produce less, there will be a negative impact on overall grain production and therefore food security. READ MORE and MORE (European Parliament) and MORE (National Farmers Union)