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Europe must avoid tarring and feathering itself

This blogpost was first published on EurActivLast week, 21 Nobel peace and science laureates wrote to the European Commission urging them to immediately implement a law that recognises the higher greenhouse gas emissions of processing unconventional fuels such as tar sands. The urgency is because the Commission is delaying the publication of a proposal on how the EU will give different carbon ‘intensity’ values to dirtier fuels. This comes at a time when the IPCC has made it clear that we are responsible for climate change and that our carbon budget is limited.

Tar sands and the Fuel Quality Directive - what is it all about?

What it IS about: The Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) sets a 6% reduction target in the carbon intensity of transport fuels to be met by 2020. This is a technology-neutral target that leaves to the industry a range of options to meet it in the most cost-effective way. What it's NOT about: The Commission proposal to implement the FQD assigns carbon intensity to all fossil fuel feedstocks, namely: tar sands, coal-to-liquid, oil shale, gas-to-liquid and conventional oil. It does NOT discriminate between sources on the basis of geographical locations; it’s all about the carbon intensity of each fuel source.

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Vote on biofuels creates more uncertainty

The vote in the European Parliament’s plenary session in September put EU biofuels policy a step closer to being environmentally useful, but it will likely lead to delays in final agreement, which creates further uncertainty for the industry. MEPs voted to limit the use of land-based biofuels and to recognise the problem of indirect land-use change (ILUC) in future biofuels laws. But they failed to give a negotiating mandate, which would enable all institutions to conclude the agreement before the next year’s elections.

European Parliament vote leaves biofuels up in the air

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.

Why doesn’t the ethanol lobby join the fight for cleaner fuels?

I am pleasantly surprised that the ethanol lobby accuses NGOs of lying only three times, not four. Rob Vierhout of ePure says that NGOs were wrong about the impacts of biofuels on global hunger, land grabbing, and about the subsidies they receive.

Correction: New revised estimates of EU biofuels support in 2011

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.

The Big Debate: Biofuels

When? 
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 14:00 to 16:00
Where? 
European Parliament
Room JAN 4Q1
1047 Brussels
Belgium

On the 11 September all Members of the European Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the revision of the EU biofuels policy. Current EU biofuels policy costs governments and citizens billions every year, even though many biofuels produce more emissions than the fossil fuels they are meant to replace!    

Biofuels’ indirect emissions finally recognised by MEPs

The complex but crucial concept of indirect land-use change has finally been recognised by one section of the EU’s legislative process. Earlier this month, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted for full accounting of indirect emissions from biofuels production, as well as a 5.5% cap on land-based biofuels counting towards the EU’s renewable energy targets. Although the vote is a long way from being confirmed, T&E described it as ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

Environment Committee steers EU biofuels in a sustainable direction

There is light at the end of the tunnel after the Parliament’s Environment Committee voted today in favour of full accounting of indirect emissions (ILUC) [1] from biofuels that can count toward both the EU’s 6% carbon reduction target in transport fuels and the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020 [2]. This vote aligns EU policy with the most robust science available today and will stop the growing consumption of some biofuels that increase greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuels. More importantly, it will promote the production of genuinely emissions reducing transport fuels such as advanced biofuels and renewable electricity for electric vehicles.

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