On 16 February 2012 the environment committee of the European Parliament will vote on a proposal to limit the sulphur content in fuels used by ships in EU seas. This briefing gives an overview of the key issues at stake.
The United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to food has called for an urgent rethink in EU biofuels policy before too much investment is made on the back of unsustainable biofuels targets. His comments come as more evidence emerges that biofuels may be a poor means of tackling climate change.
by Magnus Nilsson, T&E Senior Campaigner
Raising taxes on fossil fuels is pretty much the only climate policy tool that in all circumstances delivers real emission reductions. Telling people that the cost of petrol and diesel will have to rise may be a difficult message for politicians to put across, but if this method is rejected or not possible, climate policy will simply become unnecessarily costly.
Europe’s climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is meeting EU environment ministers today to discuss Europe’s plan to force oil companies to clean up transport fuels. The meeting comes amid a long-running lobbying campaign by Canada and the oil industry who are resisting attempts to force dirty sources of oil such as tar sands and coal-to-liquid to be produced in a more sustainable way. Meanwhile, California, America’s largest transport fuel market, gave renewed backing on Friday to its own ‘Low Carbon Fuel Standard’: the world’s first.
The battle over how to classify oil extracted from tar sands and oil shale under the EU's fuel quality directive has taken an interesting turn, with California's Air Resources Board writing to the EU climate commissioner telling her not to believe some of the lobbying undertaken by Canada and the oil industry.
by Nusa Urbancic – T&E Policy Officer
One of the least-noted parts of the EU’s ‘climate and energy package’, agreed three years ago, was the Fuel Quality Directive. It should have been better noted because it went straight to the root of one of transport’s biggest problems, namely oil’s increasingly dirty future. It did so by setting a target for reducing lifecycle carbon emissions of petrol and diesel. As such it is a simple, technology-neutral way of encouraging producers of fuel to work towards cleaner products and better extraction methods.
Biofuels produced from palm oil grown in tropical peatlands are a significant source of greenhouse gases. This is the finding of a new study done for the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which, if taken on board by the EU, would disqualify biofuels from palm oil sources from being counted towards the EU’s renewable fuels target.
Petrol and diesel made from tar sands, coal, gas and oil shale will be assigned a different carbon footprint than fuels from conventional oil, if a proposal from the Commission is supported by EU member states. After years of lobbying by Canada and some sections of the oil industry, the Commission has stuck to its original plan to assign different values to fuels dependent on their source. The values are needed as part of EU efforts to reduce the climate impact of fuel production by 6% by 2020.
More than 150 scientists and economists have written to the Commission calling for it to recognise that biofuels production can have indirect impacts on land-use, and for the resulting emissions to be taken into account in assessing which biofuels help in the fight against global warming. The letter comes as one branch of the biofuels industry has broken away from the rest by saying it would support indirect land-use change (Iluc) being a factor in assessing which biofuels will count towards the EU’s renewable energy target and hence qualify for support.