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EU parliament wants zero food, palm biofuels

24 Oct 2017, 10.14 am GMT

EU parliament wants zero food, palm biofuels

Brussels, 23 October (Argus) — The European Union Parliament's environment committee has voted for amendments to a revised renewables law that effectively exclude crop-based biofuels from EU renewables support by 2030.

The committee also voted that there should be no contribution to the EU's renewable programmes from biofuels and bioliquids produced from palm oil beginning in 2021. A final legal text governing EU biofuels and bioenergy from 2020-2030 needs to be agreed upon between the parliament and EU member states, possibly in 2018.

But the environment committee's vote may well be amended by the full parliament when voting in plenary. The committee's vote would allow crop-based biofuels to be counted towards the EU's target share for renewables in transport if such fuels meet greenhouse gas savings (GHG) threshold, albeit taking into account estimated emissions from indirect land-use change.

By 2030, none of the EU's target share of renewables in the transport sector should be met by "food and feed crop" biofuels, according to the environment committee.

The European Commission's original proposal, made on 30 November, called for a gradual phase-out of food-based biofuels from the 7pc in 2021 to 3.8pc in 2030. The commission proposed a phase-in of advanced biofuels from 1.5pc to 6.8pc by 2030.

The committee rejected an amendment that aimed at increasing an obligation on fuel suppliers to reach a 10pc target share by 2030 of advanced biofuels, other biofuels, biogas and renewable electricity in transport fuels. Members also rejected a related amendment that would have included "highly sustainable crop based" biofuels within this 10pc share.

"We're really unhappy with the outcome," a biodiesel industry source said, but he noted that "weak" support for the report in the committee indicates it could be overturned in plenary. Swedish centre-right member Christofer Fjellner also has "good" hopes that the whole parliament will change the position when it votes early next year.

"While committee members tried to differentiate among biofuels and reward those like European ethanol with high GHG savings and low risk of adverse impacts, the agreement falls short of setting a blending obligation for these sustainable low-carbon biofuels," said European renewable ethanol association ePURE secretary general Emmanuel Desplechin.

"The centre-right and conservatives in parliament have bought into the false arguments from the biofuels lobby about animal feed by-products," World Wildlife Fund senior policy officer (WWF) Alex Mason told Argus. "Subsiding crop-based biofuels makes no sense from a climate perspective," he added.

Mason said EU member states are calling for maintaining crop-based biofuels at 7pc, which would allow for further expansion. WWF and other environmental organisations strongly oppose a continued transport target and any weakening of the European Commission's proposed phase-out of crop-based biofuels.

The EU's statistical office Eurostat noted a 6.7pc share of renewable energy in fuel consumption of transport in 2015. Of this renewable transport share, some 23pc came from wastes, residues, ligno-cellulosic and non-food cellulosic material, up from 1pc in 2009.

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