The EU’s current trade policy could undermine Europe’s goal of decarbonising transport by encouraging the consumption of unsustainable biofuels, a new report has found. With free trade talks between the EU and the Mercosur countries ongoing, there are serious concerns that the removal of trade barriers in energy and raw materials could lead to an increase in imports of unsustainable biodiesel from Argentina – if sustainability safeguards are not put in place. The report says there is a need for coherence in EU trade and climate policies.
Crop-based biofuels were seen as a way to reduce the EU’s dependence on fossil fuels and decarbonise the transport sector. But emerging evidence about negative environmental and climate impacts of these biofuels has led to the European Commission proposing to gradually phase-out the policy support in the EU. Industry stakeholders argue that this would adversely affect past investments and put jobs at risk.
A free trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries – talks over which resumed this week – could undermine Europe’s goal to stop consuming unsustainable biofuels in transport. A new report by Transport & Environment (T&E) published today shows that the removal of trade barriers in energy and raw materials could lead to an increase in imports of unsustainable biodiesel from Argentina, if sustainability safeguards are not put in place. The report highlights the need for coherence in EU trade and climate policies.
Today, biofuels are mainly made from food crops and need large areas of land to be produced. Since most agricultural land is already being used to produce food for people, new areas have to be found to meet the ever-increasing demand for food and animal feed. This leads to deforestation and draining of rich ecosystems, releasing tonnes of greenhouse gases.
EU governments should answer MEPs’ call for a more robust climate law, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said despite the European Parliament’s vote today to weaken the environment committee's ambitious proposal for the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). The parliament backed a more ambitious starting point than the European Commission’s proposal, capped the so-called banking flexibility but kept the loophole on forestry credits so member states can avoid some emissions reductions.
The move to effectively disqualify high-emitting biofuels – mainly food-based biodiesel such as palm oil or rapeseed – from use in Europe’s cars and trucks, proposed today by the lead MEP on biofuels policy reform, has been welcomed by green transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). EU countries would, for the first time, have to account for the indirect land-use change (ILUC) emissions of biofuels under the Renewable Energy Directive , according to the draft report for the European Parliament’s environment committee.
European climate and energy policies are built on the myth that all bioenergy - being a renewable energy source - is good for the climate and good for the environment. As the use of bioenergy in the EU is expected to more than double by 2020 compared to 2005, it’s becoming clear that bioenergy is not the clean dream we all hoped it would be. In some cases it can even increase CO2 emissions (compared to fossil fuels) and in numerous instances it threatens nature by putting additional pressure on already burdened agricultural land and forests.