European Commission Proposal on Biofuel Revison

The European Commission has presented a proposal amending the Fuel Quality Directive (Directive 98/70/EC) and the Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC), aimed at minimising climate effects of biofuel production.

The proposal dated 17 October 2012 limits land conversion for biofuel production and tends to raise the climate benefits of biofuels in the EU. The development of alternative second generation biofuels from non-food sources which do not directly interfere with global food production shall be encouraged. To meet the 10% renewable target, the use of food-based biofuels shall be limited to 5%.

The estimated global land conversion impacts are supposed to be considered when reviewing the greenhouse gas performance of biofuels. The proposal considers recent studies showing that some biofuels may actually negate some or all of the greenhouse gas savings relative to the fossil fuels they replace in respect to the indirect land use change, for example by replacing non-agricultural land such as forests with food or feed production caused by biofuel production.

Essentially, the Commission presents the following measures:

  • Limit the contribution that conventional biofuels (with a risk of ILUC emissions) make towards attainment of the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive;
  • 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 installations already in operation on 1st July 2014;
  • 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;
  • 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.

The proposal also takes  into account the protection of existing investments until 2020. It does not provide a position for the necessity of financial support to biofuels. Yet, the Commission gives the opinion that biofuels which do not contribute to substantial greenhouse gas savings and are produced from crops used for food and feed should not be subsidised after 2020.

Sources: European Commission Press Release; Proposal for a Directive

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