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  • EU stalled on biofuels indirect climate impact

    May 8, 2012
    by Angela Faloppa

    Crops for biofuels production(Copyright National Geographic)

    Biofuels producers are disappointed by EU policymakers’ failure to agree on how to measure the industry’s environmental impact.

    Officials are attempting to debate a method of accounting for indirect land use change (ILUC), which occurs when areas are cleared to grow crops for energy. Green groups claim this has the potential to raise emissions and push up food prices, negating the emissions savings that should result from switching from fossil fuels to biofuels.

    The European Commission was expected to produce guidelines this summer delineating those biofuels that are thought to be more emission heavy, but the negotiations have reportedly ended up in an in-fighting between the Climate Commission, which wants ILUC to be considered in the new rules, and the Energy Department, which does not.

    A decision is now expected by the end of the year: In the meantime, bioufuels producers are uncertain about the future: Europe’s €13bn biofuel industry is heavily dependent on biodiesel made from palm, soy, and rapeseed feedstocks, which ILUC factors could almost totally rule out in the long term.

    However, restricting the use of biodesel would make it very hard for the EU to hit its target of achieving a 10% share of green energy in road transport by 2020, most of which is expected to come from biofuels.

    Clare Wenner, head of renewable transport at the British Renewable Energy Association (REA), told the Commission had to finalise its decision urgently so the industry could get on with the business of decarbonising the transport sector.

    However, Kenneth Richter, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, argued that if the renewable transport targets could not be achieved sustainably, they must be revoked.

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