The Commission has proposed that life-cycle carbon emissions savings from biofuels must be 35% compared with fossil fuels to count, but after discussing the EU’s proposed renewable energy directive, the committee said the target should be 45% immediately, and 60% by 2015.
The harder stance taken by the committee could be significant in determining the viability of the EU’s target that 10% of transport fuels must come from biomass by 2020. If biofuels have to meet strict sustainability criteria and be 50% better than fossil fuels, the market for such fuels may fail to grow.
The 10% target has come under further attack, with leading officials in France, Italy and Great Britain saying it will have to be revised, and MEPs saying it should come down to 4%.
The strongest comment came from France’s ecology minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who said the target was ‘probably a mistake’ and that it will have to be ‘called into question or postponed’.
Italy’s economic development minister Claudio Scajola said the target was set ‘with too much haste’ and was ‘not reachable’, while a review of biofuels for the British government said increasing demand for them contributes to rising prices for some foods and that the introduction of biofuels should be slowed until effective controls are in place to prevent land use change and higher food prices.
• The Commission is taking legal action against biodiesel imports from America, saying it has ‘sufficient evidence’ that the fuel has been made with the help of subsidies to the US biodiesel industry and that bio-diesel is being dumped on the European market.