Europe can effectively replace oil with renewable energy in transport without resorting to harmful biofuels, according to the new report Sustainable Alternatives for Land-based Biofuels in the European Union, by Dutch research institute CE Delft. The report was commissioned by environmental groups Greenpeace, BirdLife Europe, the European Environmental Bureau and Transport and Environment.
The report explores scenarios that recommend a major EU policy shift, prioritising energy efficiency and speeding up the adoption of renewable electricity and sustainable biofuels such as those produced from waste and residues.
Under current EU obligations, 10 percent of the European transport sector should be powered by renewable sources by 2020, while fuel suppliers are also required to reduce the carbon intensity of transport fuels by 6 percent.
EU governments plan to meet these targets through extensive use of biofuels made from agricultural crops, ignoring their wide environmental and social impact including the displacement of food production to new land and the resulting carbon emissions. According to a European Commission study, most biofuels currently marketed in Europe offer no or limited carbon emission savings compared to conventional fuels when emissions from this indirect land use change (ILUC) are taken into account.
The CE Delft report shows what a real shift in policy would look like, instead of the wholly unsatisfactory compromise offered by the Commission in October. The European Commission’s proposal, if adopted, would mean that at least half of the 10 percent fuel transport target would still be met using destructive biofuels in 2020 and their overall consumption would be allowed to grow.
The environmental groups urge the European Parliament and EU Member State governments to focus on the solutions offered in the report’s alternative scenario to put EU green transport fuels policy back on track.
It would lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions in 2020, while supporting the development of innovative industries that are a great source of jobs. Crucially, Member States could meet their obligations under the existing policy framework with no or a substantially lower share of biofuels made from crops grown on land.
The European Commission proposal will be discussed by EU ministers at the energy and environment Councils in February and March and by the European Parliament in the coming months.
You might also find the following publications interesting:
- A brief assessment of the proposed methodological changes for the RED and FQD
- Putting EU green transport policy back on track (Joint EU NGOs briefing on the CE DElf report)
For more information, please contact Trees Robijns, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe