Did you know that every car in Europe uses a blend of biofuels? This is because of EU law. And to meet this demand, global production of biofuels has skyrocketed. You may think ‘bio’ means biofuels are always good for the planet. But because biofuels are derived from plant products, any increase in their use has a direct impact on agriculture worldwide. That means more deforestation to make way for new agricultural land, releasing the stored-up carbon of rainforests into the air and driving up global food prices. Co-produced by T&E, BirdLife Europe, and the European Environmental Bureau, The Little Book of Biofuels explains this Butterfly Effect of Europe’s biofuels policy and how we can end it.
After five years of heavy-handed lobbying by Canada, the US and oil majors , the European Commission today published fuel quality rules that fail to discourage oil companies from using and investing in the world’s dirtiest oil such as tar sands and coal-to-liquid.
Several transport stakeholders, including civil society organisations and industry players, wrote to EU institutions to highlight the importance of keeping dedicated policies for the decarbonisation of the transport sector. They argued that this policy framework should be based on a decarbonisation target, promoting fuels and energy with the highest carbon savings, avoiding fragmentation of the EU market, and ensuring long-term visibility and stability for investments.
The EU and the US are currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free-trade agreement, which would be the world’s largest. Recently the pressure on the EU to weaken the Fuel Quality Directive has increased notably and oil companies and refiners have found in/with TTIP a new lobby vehicle to attack the FQD. Find out more in this briefing.
The United States and Canadian governments are using ongoing trade talks to push the European Union to allow devastating tar sands unfettered access to its market, according to a new report out today.
EU media has reported that the European Commission is planning to weaken the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), a law to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of Europe's transport fuels by 6% by 2020, in order to appease oil industry, Canadian and US government lobbying. As is often the case, there is some truth to the reports on the FQD - but from the version of the draft proposal that T&E has seen, we can say that there are still some useful elements in this weakened text.
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.
Transport & Environment would like to commission a study to explore and analyse policy options for a low-carbon transport fuel policy post-2020. The deadline for the submission of applications is 23 May 2014. Please see the downloadable PDF for more information.