EU biofuels legislation proposed today
By Caroline Jacobsson, Wed, 17/10/2012 - 16:11
Today BirdLife Europe published the following reactive statement on the draft legislative proposal on ILUC (indirect land use change) by the European Commission. By proposing a half-baked solution the European Commission protects outdated industry rather than investing in our future economy and it puts our environment at risk by continuing to subsidise damaging biofuels. BirdLife Europe now looks to the European Parliament and Council to rise above the narrow-minded industry interests that have overtaken the issue completely. BirdLife Europe Policy Officer on EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Trees Robijns stated: “The proposal is a half-baked solution. On the one hand the European Commission proposes a cap on all food based biofuels, basically freezing current production. On the other hand it keeps ignoring the science, which says that ILUC is a real problem for some biofuel crops and today’s proposal does not offer any clarity for those bio industry investors who are looking towards the future.” She continued “The only thing farmers and the bio-industry achieved today was to protect their past with no regard for tomorrow.” “On top of the financial crisis that many European governments are struggling with, they will now have to continue subsidising environmentally damaging biofuels, in-stead of preparing their economy for the future.” More specifically: The Commission is therefore proposing to amend the current legislation on biofuels through the Renewable Energy1 and the Fuel Quality2 Directives and in particular: 1. EC: limit the contribution that conventional biofuels (with a risk of ILUC emissions) make towards attainment of the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive BirdLife: In doing this the Commission suggests to freeze the current production of all food based biofuels that can count towards the RED target. However, this does not limit the further production or consumption of these biofuels outside of the RED target (e.g. under the FQD). In doing this blunt cap, the Commission is not giving any differentiation between those types of biofuels that are saving more and those that are saving less emissions. The commission does provide partially more clarity for after 2020 as it does not want to subsidize biofuels that are harmful after 2020 (Quote commission proposal: “However, the Commission is of the view that in the period after 2020 biofuels which do not lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings (when emissions from indirect land-use change are included) and are produced from crops used for food and feed should not be subsidised.”) 2. EC: improve the greenhouse gas performance of biofuel production processes (reducing associated emissions) by raising the greenhouse gas saving threshold for new installations subject to protecting installations6 already in operation on 1st July 2014; BirdLife: This provision only applies to new installations and since there has been a lot of uncertainty in the market, and hence little investment has been made, therefore it is not sure that many will fall under this provision. 3. EC: encourage a greater market penetration of advanced (low-ILUC) biofuels by allowing such fuels to contribute more to the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive than conventional biofuels; BirdLife: In suggesting this, the commission proposes to count double or quadruple certain types of biofuels that are supposed to have less emissions. We have some questions with which types are being put under the double or quadruple account and their sustainability. Furthermore, we are not sure this will be a sufficient driver for further investments. Correct accounting should be the base for setting the right incentives for our future renewables in the transport sector. 4. EC: improve the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by obliging Member States and fuel suppliers to report the estimated indirect land-use change emissions of biofuels. BirdLife: The reporting of GHG emissions will just be done mandatorily but it will not be tied to real consequences of subsidies or differentiated demands by fuel blenders. We are very critical that this will just be like looking at the situation but not to attach any real actions to it. However, this might be linked to a review process in 2017 in which things might be improved.