New legislaton will cap the amount of biofuels from agricultural crops used to achieve the EU’s transport targets of 10% renewable energy by 2020, MEPs approved a compromise agreement yesterday (14 April).
The European Parliament had asked for a 6% cap, but compromised a 7% cap, following a provision to allow member states to have the option to go lower if they wish.
Instead of having a compulsory target, as previously demanded by the Parliament, MEPs accepted proposals to set an optional target of 0.5% for advanced biofuels.
MEP Christofer Fjellner, who is responsible for negotiations on the biofuels legislation, said: “This is an important reform that will support the development of new advanced biofuels in Europe without hampering the use of climate-effective ethanol and biodiesel.”
MEP Christofer Fjellner – “This is an important reform that will support the development of new advanced biofuels in Europe without hampering the use of climate-effective ethanol and biodiesel”
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.
Arguments have been raised that crop-based biofuels drive up food prices and contributes to deforestation, which can result in increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Promoters of a “new generation” of advanced biofuels, made from seaweed or waste, favoured a tighter limit on traditional biofuels, but those who have invested in biofuels made from crops say too low a cap would put jobs at risk.
It was agreed that a new law would be adopted to cut harmful effects on the environment from these biofuels, and from indirect land use change (ILUC).
Marc-Oliver Herman, Oxfam’s EU biofuels expert, told EurActiv that the 7% target should be seen as a first step in limiting crop-based biofuels.
He said: “Europe must phase out these fuels completely so they can no longer jeopardize food security and contribute to climate change,” Herman said.