EU agrees 7% cap on growing crops for transport biofuels

Maize and an ethanol plant in the American state of Illinois: the EU has now shifted away from such biofuel crops.

MEPs last week officially rubber-stamped an EU shift away from biofuel crops to alternative sources, such as seaweed or waste, in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by land use for biofuel crops.

The controversial revision of EU biofuels legislation, agreed by MEPs, the EU Council and EU Commission, sets how much crop-based biofuel can be used to fulfil the EU’s renewable fuel target for transport.

It puts a 7% cap on transport fuels made from crop-based fuels, instead of a 5% limit proposed by the EU Commission, and establishes EU and national advanced biofuel targets of 0.5%, which are non-binding,

The revision is based on a 2012 European Commission proposal to limit the contribution of food crop-based (conventional) biofuels.

Following the European Parliament vote, the final text will be reviewed by lawyers and linguists, and will be formally adopted by Council, possibly still within the current Latvian Presidency.

The directive will enter into force in 2017, according to the Agra Europe news agency.

With nearly three years having passed since the Commission proposed a cap on the contribution of conventional biofuel sources, industry operators have blamed the ongoing uncertainty for investments in the sector drying up, and the share of renewables in the EU’s transport fuel mix having slowed in recent years.

In 2013, EU consumption of biofuels was at 4.7% in the transport sector.

Representing EU farmers and agricultural co-ops, Copa and Cogeca welcomed the European Parliament compromise text agreement, saying it was better than the EU Commission’s initial proposal.

“Copa and Cogeca believe that crop-based biofuels reduce significantly transport emissions and break EU dependence on oil, at the same time as ensuring good feed supplies for animals.

Evidence also demonstrates that when developed responsibly, sustainable biofuel production systems offer an extra source of income for farmers.

“And this is vital if farmers are to feed a growing world population estimated to increase by 60% by 2050”, said Copa-Cogeca Secretary- General Pekka Pesonen.

The agreement has left anti-poverty charities unhappy.

“Europe must now ban fuels competing with food production completely,” said Marc-Olivier Herman of Oxfam EU.

He accused powerful vested interests in the biofuels industry of undermining reform.


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