The battle over how to classify oil extracted from tar sands and oil shale under the EU's fuel quality directive has taken an interesting turn, with California's Air Resources Board writing to the EU climate commissioner telling her not to believe some of the lobbying undertaken by Canada and the oil industry.
by Nusa Urbancic – T&E Policy Officer
One of the least-noted parts of the EU’s ‘climate and energy package’, agreed three years ago, was the Fuel Quality Directive. It should have been better noted because it went straight to the root of one of transport’s biggest problems, namely oil’s increasingly dirty future. It did so by setting a target for reducing lifecycle carbon emissions of petrol and diesel. As such it is a simple, technology-neutral way of encouraging producers of fuel to work towards cleaner products and better extraction methods.
Biofuels produced from palm oil grown in tropical peatlands are a significant source of greenhouse gases. This is the finding of a new study done for the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which, if taken on board by the EU, would disqualify biofuels from palm oil sources from being counted towards the EU’s renewable fuels target.
Petrol and diesel made from tar sands, coal, gas and oil shale will be assigned a different carbon footprint than fuels from conventional oil, if a proposal from the Commission is supported by EU member states. After years of lobbying by Canada and some sections of the oil industry, the Commission has stuck to its original plan to assign different values to fuels dependent on their source. The values are needed as part of EU efforts to reduce the climate impact of fuel production by 6% by 2020.
More than 150 scientists and economists have written to the Commission calling for it to recognise that biofuels production can have indirect impacts on land-use, and for the resulting emissions to be taken into account in assessing which biofuels help in the fight against global warming. The letter comes as one branch of the biofuels industry has broken away from the rest by saying it would support indirect land-use change (Iluc) being a factor in assessing which biofuels will count towards the EU’s renewable energy target and hence qualify for support.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has completed what is believed to be the first assessment of state support for fossil fuels.
A new report says the EU is seriously miscalculating the contribution biofuels can make to tackling global warming. It calls on the EU to review its bioenergy laws, but the recommendation comes as the EU looks set to postpone by seven years the introduction of new rules aimed at accounting for the full climate impacts of biofuels.
The Commission is consulting on its plans for an alternative fuels strategy, which will form part of the EU’s transport policy for the next 10 years.
More than 2000 demonstrators representing all 51 states of the USA staged a protest outside the White House last month, objecting to the Keystone XL pipeline that would pump oil derived from tar sands from Canada to large parts of America.