European Commission announces new voluntary schemes under RED

By Erin Voegele | July 20, 2011

The European Commission announced the recognition of seven voluntary schemes for sustainable biofuels on July 19. According to the Commission, there is a need to guarantee that biofuels used in the EU deliver tangible greenhouse gas savings when compared to fossil fuels, and that their production does not result in harmful indirect land use change. The seven schemes recognized by the Commission apply directly to the 27 member states.

Information released by the Commission states that in order to receive government support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU must comply with sustainability criteria. This includes biofuels produced within Europe, as well as those imported from other parts of the world. Biofuels companies can choose between two options to demonstrate this compliance, through national systems or by joining a voluntary scheme that is recognized by the commission as adequately meeting the sustainability requirements of the Renewable Energy Directive.

 The sustainability criterion ultimately aims to prevent the conversion of biodiverse lands that store carbon from being cleared to produce biofuel feedstocks. “In practice, this means that biofuels made of crops that have been grown on land that used to be rainforest or natural grassland with a unique ecosystem cannot be considered as sustainable,” said the Commission in a news release. In addition, the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of a fuel must be currently 35 percent lower when compared to fossil fuels. The Commission notes that threshold will be increased over time.

“We need to make sure that the entire biofuels’ production and supply chain is sustainable,” said Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger. “This is why we have set the highest sustainability standards in the world. The schemes recognized on the EU level today are a good example of a transporarent and reliable system which ensures that these high standards are met.”

The seven voluntary schemes published by the European Commission on July 19 include:

- International Sustainability and Carbon Certification: A global initiative developed as a multistakeholder approach with the involvement of many companies and industry associations from different companies that has a global scope and covers all types of biomass and biofuels.

- Bonsucro EU: A special version of the Bonsucro scheme specifically designed to meet the mandatory requirements of RED that is the standard for sugarcane ethanol with a strong focus on Brazilian sugarcane production.

- Round Table on Responsible Soy EU RED: A special version of the RTRS scheme that is a standard for soy-based biodiesel with a strong focus on Argentinean and Brazilian soy production.

- Roundtable of Sustainable Biofuels EU RED: A special version of the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels scheme that covers all types of biofuels and has a global scope.

- Biomass Biofuels voluntary Scheme: A French initiative led by Bureau Veritas that covers all types of biofuels and has a global scope.

- Abengoa RED Bioenergy Sustainability Assurance (RSBA): An industry initiative developed by Abengoa that covers ethanol and has a global scope.

- Greenergy Brazilian Bioethanol verification programme (Greenergy): An industry initiative developed by Greenergy that applies to sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil.

Detailed information on each new voluntary scheme can be downloaded from the European Commission’s website.

 

 
 
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