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Electro-mobility and alternative fuels central to ‘energy union’ agenda

Further decarbonisation of transport through a shift to alternative fuels and electro-mobility forms a major part of the European Commission’s strategy for an ‘energy union’, unveiled last week. With transport being responsible for more than 30% of EU energy consumption and a quarter of emissions, the Commission said legislation on ‘decarbonising the transport sector, including an action plan on alternative fuels’ would be put forward in 2017.

MEPs confirm support for 6% biofuels cap

Members of the European Parliament's environment committee have backed a 6% limit on land-based biofuels that can count toward the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020. Critics say many of these so-called first-generation biofuels drive up global food prices and emit as much carbon as conventional fossil fuel and even more in some cases.

MEPs must separate cream of biofuels crop from the rest

Last week another study by the World Resources Institute (WRI) said that biofuels are not a green alternative to fossil fuels for two reasons. First, producing food or even non-edible crops for fuels is an inefficient use of land – turning solar radiation into non-food energy in plants takes a hell of a lot of land for a small amount of liquid fuel. Second, biofuels production increases competition for land, which is either needed to preserve ecosystems that host biodiversity and store carbon or to produce enough food to feed the growing population.

Modest climate and energy targets won’t cut it

EU governments last week agreed three modest targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase the share of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency by 2030. Environmental groups said the goals would not do enough to cut Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and put it on track to meet its own 2050 climate pledges.

Long-awaited fuel quality rules will ‘fail to halt dirty oil’

The Commission finally published rules to implement the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) last month, but environmental campaigners say they will fail to discourage oil companies from using and investing in higher-polluting oil such as tar sands and coal-to-liquid.

EU clinging to ‘false euphoria’ about biofuels

Hopes of having the full social and environmental effects of biofuels reflected in EU legislation before 2020 are fading after another round of negotiations led to further weakening of the European Commission’s proposal. With an agreement likely in the Council of Ministers next month, it looks as if the requirement for member states to report the effects of indirect land-use change (ILUC) will be further weakened. Also, food-based biofuels that are worse for climate change than traditional petrol and diesel will be allowed to increase by 50% from today’s levels and will not be capped under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).

Anger as Commission allows ‘sustainable’ palm oil

Environmental groups have reacted angrily to news that the Commission has approved a scheme that would allow fuels made from palm oil to count towards the EU’s renewable fuels target. The decision threatens to reignite the controversy that indirect land-use change (ILUC) is not being taken into account in the EU’s biofuels policy.

‘Peak oil’ is dead – but the need for urgency is greater than ever

Opinion By Jos Dings - T&E DirectorThe most recent World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency caught more headlines than usual, the main reason being its finding that North America is to become self-sufficient in energy in 20 years due to an expected increase in production of unconventional oil and gas, as well as energy conservation – mainly more efficient cars. This has some serious consequences, also for Europe, and it heightens the responsibility of the world’s politicians to take some meaningful action on climate change, and quickly.

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