Biofuels are set to play a reduced role in the European Union’s fight against climate change as lawmakers Thursday voted to limit their use in the transportation sector.
The vote reduces a target set in 2009 stipulating that 10 percent of Europe’s transport energy must come from renewable sources in that time frame, with biofuels expected to be the bulk contributor.
The target of 10 percent still remains, but now only 5.5 percent of that target can be achieved using biofuels.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) urged the committee to vote against the cap earlier this week, saying that the science around indirect land use change (ILUC), was purely “theoretical” and therefore there could be no justification in incorporating limits.
ILUC is based around the theory that greenhouse gases could be released indirectly as a result of land that is currently not cultivated coming into production.
The value of turning crops such as rapeseed, palm oil and sugar cane into fuel—lauded a decade ago in plans to shift away from the dominance of fossil fuels in cars and trucks—has become an increasingly controversial part of the EU’s climate change laws.
Friends of the Earth says this is a step in the right direction, but urges the EU to commit to a complete phase-out of the use of biofuels, which has maintained that some biofuels produce more carbon-dioxide emissions than traditional fossil fuels when taking into account how land is used to grow the crops, such as the clearing of forests.
Biofuels that result in greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation beyond a certain threshold will not be considered a renewable fuel.
The news comes only days after it was announced that a biofuels plant is set to open in the UK.
The £350m Vivergo plant is set to become the UK’s largest, generating 500,000 tonnes of animal feed co-products annually for use by UK livestock farmers and will produce 420m litres of bioethanol.