Food-based biofuels can still be counted towards the EU’s renewable energy target, the European Commission has proposed – in a stunning U-turn on its commitment to phase-out first-generation biofuels that are worse for the climate than fossil fuels. Member states will be able to use a maximum 3.8% share of food-based biofuels in transport towards the Renewable Energy Directive’s target for 2030, barely reduced from the current 4.9% market share at EU level.
By Jelena Simjanovic, clean energy directorWHAT I LEARNED IN 2016: I joined T&E in late summer, soon after the European Commission published its Low-emission Mobility Strategy. Its goals looked promising: increasing efficiency of the transport system; speeding up the development of low-emission alternative energy for transport; and moving towards zero-emission vehicles. While I had a general idea about biofuels and sustainability issues around them, I entered the transport world after 10 years of working on a variety of energy sector issues and carbon markets. I feel privileged to have a job where I can learn as much as I have learned in the past five months, while at the same time utilising my extensive knowledge of the electricity and energy markets for the discussion on transport electrification and development.
National emissions-reduction targets proposed for the transport, agriculture and buildings sectors include loopholes that would put their delivery at serious risk, environmental groups have warned. The regulation proposed by the European Commission will determine how member states share the burden of meeting the EU’s climate goals by 2030.
Fears that Europe’s transport is still lagging behind other industrial sectors in tackling climate change have been confirmed by the latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Its data show greenhouse gases from transport have grown for the first time since 2007. T&E says the figures are worse than the EEA says, and calls on the EU to take ‘ambitious’ action.
The use of palm oil for biodiesel in Europe spiked to an all-time high in 2014. Forty-five percent of all the palm oil used in Europe powered cars and trucks, data obtained by green group Transport & Environment (T&E) revealed. The figures came from EU vegetable oil industry association Fediol, which confirmed the data after T&E’s publication. This is the first time that the sources of biodiesel in Europe have been made public.
The EU’s policy of using biodiesel for transport is set to increase Europe’s overall transport emissions by almost 4% instead of cutting CO2 emissions, according to a new analysis of the European Commission’s latest study on biofuels. These extra emissions are equivalent to putting around 12 million additional cars on Europe’s roads in 2020, the analysis by T&E finds. These findings take into account the EU’s 7% cap on the contribution of biofuels produced from food crops.
The phenomenon of indirect land-use change (ILUC) is an even bigger cause of emissions from regular biofuels than first feared. That’s the dramatic finding of a study for the European Commission that was published last month after much delay.
CO2 standards for new vehicles have been proven to work and new targets should be introduced for 2025 and 2030, a report for the European Parliament’s transport committee has said. The limited quantities of available biofuels are also highlighted, while the shift to electric vehicles is ‘inevitable’.