Commissioners recognise Iluc must be dealt with, but fail to decide how

April 29, 2012

The EU’s 27 commissioners have recognised that indirect land-use change (Iluc) caused by the EU’s biofuels policy has to be addressed seriously, but at a meeting earlier this month they failed to reach a decision on how to deal with it. The 27 rejected a compromise put forward by the EU's energy and climate directorates, and asked the two departments to work out a more ambitious proposal. T&E has welcomed the call for more ambition, but has criticised this latest delay in finding a solution.


The importance of Iluc – the phenomenon by which crops grown to make biofuels indirectly create additional greenhouse gases because of other land cleared to grow crops for food – has grown as evidence has emerged that Iluc would make some biofuels worse for the climate than fossil fuels. As this is especially the case for biodiesel, which makes up around three quarters of the EU’s transport biofuels, the Commission has been internally deadlocked and unable to come up with a way of dealing with Iluc.

This deadlock led to Iluc getting onto the agenda at the highest political level in the Commission. The 27 commissioners discussed several options for dealing with Iluc at their meeting on 2 May, but they failed to reach a decision, and asked the energy and climate commissioners to get their officials to draw up a proposal to be considered later this year.


More than 100 organisations from civil society presented the 27 commissioners with a letter making the case for the Commission to take account of indirect land-use change by including Iluc factors in both directives. This follows a letter sent by more than 200 scientists last year calling for the same action. T&E recently published a proposal based on a study by the consultancy Ecofys which proposes a system of ‘grandfathering’ that would leave current production of biofuels untouched while at the same time ensuring that any additional biofuels would have to genuinely save emissions.