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.

MEPs also voted to include emissions from indirect land-use change (ILUC) [1] in the fuel quality law by 2020, and voted against any post-2020 quantity or emissions targets for biofuels. Therefore this vote leaves the initiative on targets beyond 2020 to the European Commission, casting doubt over the future of biofuels.
Commenting on the vote, T&E’s clean fuels manager Nusa Urbancic, said: “Today’s vote calls into question the willingness of the European Parliament to fix the failed EU biofuels policy. Until an agreement is reached, it is uncertain for investors and the environment what the future of biofuels will be. What is certain though is that Europeans will have to keep paying for another seven years for biofuels that pollute more than the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace.”
MEPs voted to limit at 6% the use of land-based biofuels that can meet the EU target for renewable transport fuel. This is a weakening of the Commission’s proposal, which put forward a cap at 5% – close to current consumption levels. But on the positive side, the 6% cap not only covers food-based biofuels but also all land-using biofuels. The cap was designed to reduce the pressure that biofuels used in Europe exert on new land around the world, leading to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions
We urge European governments and Parliamentarians to support the full carbon accounting of biofuels in order to fix the failing EU biofuels policy once and for all. Only then can Europe ensure its citizens are not forced to fill up their cars with biofuels that drive deforestation and emissions incre­­ases,” Nusa Urbancic concluded.­­­
(1) ILUC happens when land previously used to grow crops for food is converted to grow crops for fuel. As food will have to be grown somewhere else because demand for food remains at least constant, this will result in an overall increase in emissions caused by converting new land for production. Watch a short video about biofuels at

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Nico Muzi
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