• EU energy ministers reject a bad deal on biofuels but status quo is even worse

    European energy ministers today rejected by a blocking minority a political deal to amend the EU biofuels policy. The rejected agreement, struck by the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU, would have limited the use of food-based biofuels that are eligible to count towards carbon reduction targets [1] to 7% of transport fuel – a cap close to the original 2020 target. The deal would have also mandated just the reporting of biofuel emissions from indirect land-use change (ILUC) [2] with a wide range of values for ILUC factors.

    Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Luxembourg, which held the most progressive positions in the Council, rejected the compromise because they thought it was too weak. Poland and Hungary, to the contrary, rejected it because they wanted no limits on the uptake of conventional biofuels.
    Reacting to the decision, T&E’s clean fuels manager, Nusa Urbancic, said: “The compromise on the table was ugly, but the status quo is even worse. Ministers should listen to the progressive countries and adopt a position closer to that of the Parliament. Failure to act means more emissions and higher costs; it is difficult to see why Europe would want that.” [3]
    The proposed and rejected 7% cap would have led to a one-off release of 400 million tonnes of CO2 compared to the 5% cap proposed by the Commission [4]. This is equivalent to adding nine million extra cars to Europe’s roads by 2020. The mere reporting of ILUC emissions would have allowed biofuels that produce more emissions than conventional diesel and petrol to still count towards the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020.
    Now, the incoming Greek Presidency of the EU will resume political negotiations to reach a new agreement before the second-reading negotiations with the Parliament can start.