April 2015 will enter history as the month in which the EU reversed course on its energy policies in transport. It adopted its long-mooted reform of biofuels policy – especially regarding indirect land-use change (ILUC). The practical implications in the next years may not be so big. But the political and longer-term ones are.
The European Parliament has given its final approval to a law capping the use of land-based biofuels in transport. The reform, which aims to be a check on the growing consumption of biofuels that increase carbon emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol due to ILUC emissions, has been passed after seven years of public debate and tense negotiations between the European Commission, MEPs and EU member states.
Between 90 and 150 million tonnes of CO2 resulting from burning biomass with no climate safeguards are labelled carbon neutral in Europe, according to a new study. This costs EU governments €630m-€1 billion a year in foregone revenue from the emissions trading system (ETS) because such emissions do not require carbon permits and thus industry does not have to surrender allowances for burning biomass.
A win-win situation in which motorists could save up to 23% of the cost of owning an electric car and the carbon impact of e-vehicles could be reduced is possible through smart charging.
Germany’s environment agency UBA has expressed serious concern that the EU’s position on the emerging Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal could weaken environmental protection standards in Europe. The UBA is also suggesting that any TTIP agreement should include a list of areas where cooperation on environmental standards would benefit both America and Europe.
The full European Parliament today agreed to cap the use of land-based biofuels in transport, with the aim of being a check on the growing consumption of biofuels that increase carbon emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol. Today’s vote marks the endgame for the EU’s public policy support for biofuels, after more than a decade.
On 28 April 2015, the European Parliament was expected to adopt a final compromise for the reform of EU biofuels policy that would then be endorsed by the Council of the EU. This briefing outlines how, after several years of difficult discussions, this compromise lacks the necessary ambition to tackle properly the issue of indirect land-use change (ILUC). However, it sets some key principles for the phase-out of first-generation biofuels, recognises the problem of ILUC emissions and introduces new measures for other alternatives such as advanced biofuels and renewable electricity. T&E stresses that these elements will need to be captured in the 2030 transport fuels policies.
The use of land-based biofuels as part of EU plans for the decarbonisation of transport will be restricted under a proposal endorsed by the European Parliament’s environment committee today. Transport & Environment cautiously welcomes the decision, which is expected to be approved by the full Parliament later this month, will limit at 7% the use of first-generation biofuels that can count toward the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020.
The Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) was first proposed in early 2007 as part of the so-called “integrated approach”, to ensure that the oil industry would also contribute to the fight against climate change. Its implementation has been frequently and quietly delayed until the end of 2014 due to massive amount of lobbying by oil interests.