EU’s Biofuels U-Turn Is Final Nail in Coffin of Irish Sugar
by Dick Roche (Irish Examiner) When it was enacted in 2009, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive was seen as a progressive step towards meeting Europe’s climate change targets …. — The directive — which provided that by 2020 at least 10% of EU transport sector energy must come from renewable sources — opened the prospect of repeating in Europe the ‘quiet revolution’ in rural investment and jobs that that the US witnessed from its ethanol policy.
The ink on the Renewable Energy Directive was barely dry when, in 2012, the European Commission proposed in a drastic policy U-turn to cut the target from 10% to to 5% of transport energy.
Two notions drove these proposals: a belief that biofuel production caused major increases in world food prices and a theory that increased EU biofuel production would lead to untenable levels of global indirect land use change.
Since 2012 the World Bank, the OECD and the United Nations Food and the UN Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) have all concluded that biofuel production is not a key driver of food prices. Indeed, in its 2013 report ‘Long Term Drivers of Food Prices’ the World Bank does not even rank biofuels as a player of any significance.
Concerns about indirect land use change were debunked in a study produced by respected international environmental consultants for the Commission, the ‘Globiom Study’. This concluded in particular that European-produced ethanol has low impact on land-use change.
In 2015, the general secretary of UN FAO advised it was time for a ‘paradigm shift’ in the biofuels debate and called for a “move from the food versus fuel debate to a food and fuel debate”. READ MORE