Energy ministers today finally agreed to change the EU’s biofuels policy. After more than a year of talks, the Energy Council says it wants to limit the amount of food-based biofuels to 7% of petrol and diesel sold. Without policy change, around 8.6% would likely come from such biofuels; the Commission proposed a stricter limit of 5%. The deal also further weakens the reporting of biofuels emissions resulting from indirect land-use change (ILUC).
The first shipment of highly polluting Canadian tar sands oil to Europe is due to arrive in Spain tomorrow (Thursday May 29). Environment groups Friends of the Earth Europe, Transport & Environment and Greenpeace warn that this delivery provides a snapshot of Europe’s energy future – a continued addiction to ever-dirtier oil.
In its most significant vote on the 2030 climate and energy package, the European Parliament today rebuked the European Commission and sent a strong signal to member states about the importance of complete carbon accounting under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), the EU law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels.
In its draft ‘white paper’ published today, which outlines the proposed 2030 climate and energy package, the European Commission has included a line of text calling for an end, from 2020, of the 6% greenhouse gas reduction target for transport fuels, as part of the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).
New figures released today by the US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) show that if Europe does not act, its imports of tar sands, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, would likely skyrocket from about 4,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2012 to over 700,000 bpd in 2020 . The resulting emissions increase in transport would be the equivalent of adding six million cars to Europe’s roads. The 2020 scenario will occur if the EU clean fuel standard, set out in the Fuel Quality Directive, is not comprehensively implemented.
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work to ban landmines, and Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, spoke today at a press conference in Brussels about the impact of the expansion of tar sands on local communities. She also emphasised the need for EU leadership on curbing the high-energy unconventional fuels that accelerate climate change. Jody Williams met with over 200 women from 13 communities during a recent fact-finding mission to the Alberta tar sands.
The Environment Committee of the European Parliament today refused to allow the rapporteur of the biofuels draft law, MEP Corinne Lepage, to start negotiations with member states in a fast second-reading procedure. This procedural vote has important consequences because it means a decision on the future of biofuels in Europe is unlikely to be taken before 2015.
The European Parliament voted today to limit the expansion of land-based biofuels, but did not give the rapporteur of the file, MEP Corinne Lepage, a mandate to negotiate the agreement with the EU countries and the European Commission. This creates further uncertainty on the future of biofuels in Europe.
CORRECTION NOTE: On 23 August 2013, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), author of the study, corrected the estimates of the public support the EU biofuels industry received in 2011. The revised overall estimate for EU biofuels subsidies is now €5.5-6.9 (average 6.2) billion per year, and not €9.3-10.7 (average 10) billion per year, as originally published in April 2013. According to IISD, the revision is due to a calculation error on the volume of biofuels eligible for tax exemptions in certain countries. All other estimates remain the same, including those for the cost of consumption mandates which make up the largest type of public support. "The conclusions and recommendations presented in the original report also remain unchanged", IISD stated in its Addendum.