An extraordinary ‘orientation meeting’ between the European Union’s 27 commissioners has instructed the EU executive’s energy and climate departments to sit down and jointly draft a legal proposal addressing indirect land use changes (ILUC) caused by the biofuels industry.
But no decisions were taken at the high-level meeting convened by Commission Secretary-General Catherine Day, who oversees all departments at the EU executive.
But environmentalists warned that time was running out: “Enough delay and dithering,” said Robbie Blake of Friends of the Earth.
“Until ILUC is properly dealt with, expanding biofuels for our cars will only cause more deforestation and carbon emissions.”
The European Commission had been expected to publish a proposal quantifying the indirect emissions caused by biofuels this summer, to separate the lower-emitting biofuels such as ethanol from high-emitting ones like biodiesel.
But the internal decision-making process quickly became paralised by an ongoing dispute between the Commission’s energy directorate, which did not want ILUC factors considered, and its climate directorate, which does.
In the EU’s orientation debate, Commissioners considered some options.
The first proposed raising a greenhouse gas threshold for EU approval of biofuels from 35% to 60% less CO2 emissions than conventional fuels, with a 2016 introduction timeframe.
A second option preferred by environmentalists would see the introduction of crop-specific ILUC factors in both the fuel quality and renewable energy directives, providing incentives for the best-performing bioethanols and second generation biofuels.