EU energy committee: 'mandatory advanced biofuels targets needed'

By EU Parliament Committee on Industry, Research & Energy | June 20, 2013

The EU should boost the use of advanced types of biofuels by setting mandatory targets, but a reliable model for measuring indirect land use change (ILUC) must be found before including it in legislation, said members of the EU Parliament energy committee in a June 20 vote on fuel quality and renewable energy legislation. The committee's proposed changes will be put to a vote in plenary, along with amendments to be adopted by the committee on environment, which has the lead on this file.

“After lengthy discussions, we have managed to reconcile very different positions to agree a balanced text which addresses ILUC whilst protecting investments that have already been made,” said the committee's rapporteur Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP, ES). “I hope we will be able to reach this majority also in plenary.”

Advanced vs. conventional biofuels

Advanced biofuels are produced from wastes, algae and other sources that don't compete directly with food and feed crops. They provide high greenhouse gas savings with a low indirect land use change impact. Greater production of advanced biofuels should be encouraged by gradually phasing in mandatory targets for their use in the transport sector, whilst meeting certain sustainability criteria, says the text. The minimum targets proposed are: 0.5 percent in 2016, 2.5 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2025.

Conventional biofuels—produced from cereal and other starch-rich crops, sugar and oil crops—should account for no more than 6.5 percent of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020 (compared to 5 percent initially proposed by the commission).

ILUC measuring and reporting

Greenhouse gas emissions linked to indirect land use change could be significant because almost all biofuel production in 2020 is expected to come from crops grown on land that could be used to satisfy food and feed markets, members of the European Parliament say. They point to the commission's impact assessment findings of “considerable limitations and uncertainties” in calculating ILUC and therefore say such modeling should not be included in the legislation at this stage.

MEPs ask the Commission to report on the progress of scientific evidence for the use of ILUC factors by the end of 2015 and propose, if appropriate, legislation that would require suppliers to report on the estimated ILUC emissions of their biofuels from September 2016.

Next steps

The energy committee has an “associated” status for this file, which means its proposals will be put straight to the plenary vote. The lead environment committee, which is the lead committee, will vote on July 10. The plenary vote giving the mandate to start negotiations with the council is expected to take place in early autumn.

 
 
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