The campaign to make petrol and diesel derived from tar sands less economically attractive received the support of a group of MEPs earlier this month, including the chair of the environment committee, Jo Leinen.
Two new independent scientific studies launched today cast further doubt on the EU’s policy of promoting biomass as fuel for heat and power generation, and biofuels for transport,  according to BirdLife International, the European Environmental Bureau and Transport & Environment.
The Commission has published its guidance on the sustainability and certification of biofuels, which it hopes will stop the loss of credibility in the EU’s biofuels policy. But the new guidelines for the sustainability of biofuels production still do not take indirect land-use change into account, which experts and campaign groups say is the most crucial issue.
The environment impact of oil produced from ‘tar sands’ is becoming an increasingly high-profile issue, after three developments in the last month that could be important in the fight for cleaner fuels. MEPs and a group of NGOs have warned that fuel quality legislation agreed in 2008 could be undermined because the true impact of tar sands on CO2 emissions is not reflected in the small print of the law now being discussed, and another NGO says oil from some of the most carbon-intensive sources is probably already in use on this side of the Atlantic.
Efforts to reduce climate emissions from road freight transport were given a boost last month when the Commission suggested the introduction of carbon dioxide emissions standards for the first time. The idea has been floated in a communication on clean and energy-efficient vehicles, which concentrates mainly on setting a framework for the development of electric cars.
The Commission has been forced to release an annex to a study on the impact of biofuels policy it had withheld. The hidden information suggests that biodiesel made from soy beans can emit four times more greenhouse gases than conventional diesel.
A group of 12 environmental groups, including T&E, has written to the climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, warning about the likely implications of new rules that will form part of the EU’s fuel quality directive.
A study undertaken by the European Commission into the potential for biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport has found that reductions can be made as long as biofuels are produced in small quantities, but after a certain point, the indirect effects of growing biofuel crops cause galloping increases in emissions.