The European Commission is overestimating the share of renewable energy that will be filled by bioenergy in 2030 while underestimating a significant drop in the cost of renewables such as wind and solar energy, a new independent study has found. As the Commission used old data, higher ambition on renewables appears to be more expensive than it actually is, warned NGOs Transport & Environment (T&E) and Birdlife Europe, which commissioned the study. Unless this is corrected, lawmakers might end up being less ambitious about mandating the uptake of renewable energy or being overly optimistic about mandating the use of bioenergy.
The European Parliament’s transport committee today voted to increase the ambition of the EU’s largest proposed climate law, the Effort Sharing Regulation. The opinion report led by Merja Kyllonen MEP, which was was adopted by 32 votes in favor and 8 against, will feed into the discussion in the main committee, ENVI. The committee’s ambition on issues like the starting point, a longer term emission reduction trajectory and the bi-annual compliance checks was welcomed by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment.
As the European Union discusses reform of its Renewable Energy Directive (RED), this position paper and factsheet outline why we need to move ahead to a world without food-based biofuels. In 2015 the share of renewables in transport was 6%, coming mainly from food-based biofuels. Crop-biodiesels are the largest contributor, and they have higher emissions than fossil diesel, hence increasing emissions. Food-based biofuels are not an efficient use of land; solar panels could deliver over 100 times more vehicle kilometre with the same area. The European Commission’s proposal on phasing out biofuels compared to a proper phase-out would lead to CO2 emissions on the scale of Netherlands annual emissions.
Last week European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker presented his plan for the future of Europe. Or, more accurately, he presented different scenarios for what that future could look like. It would be easy to dismiss this as another round of Brussels navel gazing but the truth is this debate matters. Especially to environmentalists.
In a letter to the Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, five green and development organisations - Birdlife, Friends of the Earth, Fern, Oxfam, and T&E - ask the Commissioner to reconsider her position about aviation biofuels. The organisations also make some recommendations on how to start decarbonising the sector.
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.
Backtracking on its commitment to promote the electrification of transport and a phaseout of food-based biofuels, the European Commission today proposed to keep supporting planet-wrecking biofuels until 2030 and not stimulate the uptake of clean electricity in transport. Moreover, the Commission is setting a target for advanced fuels 15 years in advance, without appropriate sustainability criteria, as if it hasn’t learned a lesson from mistakes with first generation biofuels.