Change in policy on biofuels

The European Commission introduced a significant shift in biofuel policy in the new directive proposal published on 17 October, as it limits crop-based biofuels to five per cent of transport fuel, following concerns over the effect on food crops.

The change means that fuel suppliers will not, as originally planned, be held accountable for the indirect emissions biofuels cause by displacing food production into new areas, resulting in forest clearance and peatland draining known in EU jargon as “indirect land use change” (ILUC).

As a result, fuel suppliers will be able to continue blending biodiesel made from rapeseed, palm oil and soybeans into their fuels and claiming credit for cutting emissions, despite EU scientific studies showing that overall greenhouse gas emissions from biodiesel may be higher than from fossil fuel. “With this proposal, European citizens will have no guarantee that the biofuels they put in their cars are actually better for the climate,” said Nusa Urbancic, fuels campaigner with green transport campaigners T&E.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger confirmed in a joint statement that they wanted to cap the use of crop-based fuel. The proposal limits food crop-based biofuel to the current consumption level of five per cent up to 2020 while the target to raise the share of renewable fuel in the transport mix to ten per cent by 2020 remains.

Sources: AECC Newsletter, September-October 2012 and PlanetArk, 17 October 2012.

The directive proposal is at:

In this issue