Further decarbonisation of transport through a shift to alternative fuels and electro-mobility forms a major part of the European Commission’s strategy for an ‘energy union’, unveiled last week. With transport being responsible for more than 30% of EU energy consumption and a quarter of emissions, the Commission said legislation on ‘decarbonising the transport sector, including an action plan on alternative fuels’ would be put forward in 2017.
Members of the European Parliament's environment committee have backed a 6% limit on land-based biofuels that can count toward the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020. Critics say many of these so-called first-generation biofuels drive up global food prices and emit as much carbon as conventional fossil fuel and even more in some cases.
The new Commission appears to be planning to keep EU rules on fuel quality to encourage greener transport fuels after 2020, following an interview given by the new energy commissioner Maroš Šefčovič.
Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted today to limit at 6% the use of land-based biofuels that can count toward the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020. They also approved accounting of indirect emissions (known as ILUC)  from biofuels under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) with a review clause to put them in all pieces of legislation after 2020 . This vote will put the brakes on the growing consumption of biofuels that increase greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol.
Greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 were 7% lower than they would have been if renewable energy had not made considerable progress in recent years, according to a report from the European Environmental Agency (EEA).
This paper sets out why a cross-vehicle, cross-modal strategy to accelerate the electrification of transport – a shift towards sustainable e-mobility – should be an essential part of Europe’s ambition to achieve an energy union. It would also bring the benefits of reduced oil imports and transport CO2 emissions as well as stimulate innovation and jobs.
Ahead of the Communication on the European Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, NGOs wrote to the College of the European Commission asking it to pay special attention to the decarbonisation of transport. They ask commissioners to include a comprehensive strategy for electrification of transport as one of their priorities for moving Europe further down the road of climate and energy security and towards reducing its global land foot-print.
Ahead of its discussion on the EU’s key priorities for the next decade, seven stakeholder organisations from industry, transport and cities wrote to the College of the European Commission regarding the creation of a European Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy. They called on the commissioners to focus on the transport sector, which represents about a third of the EU’s overall energy consumption and is almost exclusively dependent on imported fossil fuels.
After a decade of promoting biofuels, Europe is in the midst of reforming its policy. Below you can download three different graphs (in pdf): the political positions of the three European institutions in early 2015; what they mean in terms of emissions and a detailed timeline of events since the first policy was introduced in 2003.