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!
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’.
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)  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 . 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.
This letter by environmental groups to President Barroso underlines the urgent need to re-submit to the Environment Council a robust and science-based implementation of the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) after the process of the impact assessment is concluded. Recent research has shown that this proposal would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Europe, but also result in global GHG emissions reductions of 60 million tonnes.
Members of the European Parliament’s Energy Committee in a vote today weakened an already modest proposal to fix EU biofuels policy, hampering the transition towards more sustainable biofuels. MEPs voted not only against accounting for biofuel emissions from indirect land-use change (ILUC) but even against reporting them , allowing biofuels that increase emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol to count towards the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020 .
T&E, as well over 100 other organisations signed up to an open letter to EU decision makers on EU biofuels policy. Urgent action is needed to halt the expansion of land-based biofuels (i.e. biofuels, or agrofuels, made from food crops or dedicated energy crops) which bring few or no climate benefits while putting extra pressure on scarce land resources, especially for food and feed.
A senior environmental lawyer has undertaken a new legal analysis of the Commission’s proposal to address indirect land-use change (ILUC) caused by the EU’s biofuels policy, revealing that the EU executive violated a fundamental principle of EU law in its response to the problem of ILUC.
This open letter, signed by a large group of civil society groups and NGOs, calls on Members of the European Parliament to make crucial changes to the EU biofuels policy. The policy is not only failing in its basic objective of cutting CO2 emissions from Europe's transport, but is also costing governments and taxpayers €10 billion in support every year.
This briefing paper by Tim Grabiel, senior lawyer at Defense Terre, centres on the precautionary principle and preventive action, two fundamental bedrocks of EU policy creation, and the need for them to be applied to the issue of indirect land-use change emissions from biofuels.
The Commission's proposal on biofuels, published in October 2012, introduced additional incentives for biofuels from wastes and residues. These biofuels can count four times towards the 10% target for renewables in transport. However, the proposed framework is not in conformity with waste legislation, nor adapted to the biofuel context. It also leaves residues and co-products undefined, instead opting just to include an incomplete list of raw materials in an annex without description or clarification. This briefing note, written by Tim Grabiel of Défense Terre, examines the treatment of waste, residues and co-products for biofuels and bioliquids within the Renewable Energy Directive and Fuel Quality Directive and suggests a different classification of these materials.