EU agrees 10% 'green fuel' target in renewables deal
The EUÂ has struck a deal toÂ satisfy 10% of its transport fuel needs from renewable sources, including biofuels,Â hydrogen and green electricity,Â as part of ongoingÂ negotiations onÂ its energy and climate package. The move represents a step back from the original aim of sourcing 10% of the bloc's transport fuels from biofuels alone.
compromise deal on the contribution of biofuels to the EU's overall renewable energy consumption target, which foresees sourcingÂ 20%Â of theÂ bloc's energy needs fromÂ renewablesÂ by 2020,Â was reached late in the night ofÂ 3 DecemberÂ during behind-closed-doors negotiations between representatives of the three main EU institutions.
The final compromise obliges the bloc to ensure that biofuels offer at least 35% carbon emission savings compared to fossil fuelsÂ when theÂ law entersÂ into forceÂ â€“ a figure that would rise to 45%Â by 2013 andÂ 50%Â by 2017. As ofÂ 2017, the targetÂ will be raised to 60%.Â Earlier, the Parliament had asked for an immediate 45% target to be established.Â
Sub-targetsÂ for first and second-generation biofuels, demanded by MEPs but stongly opposedÂ by member states, were dropped. Instead, the overall 10% biofuelsÂ target now applies not only to biofuels, butÂ alsoÂ to all renewable energyÂ used in transport,Â such as electric vehiclesÂ powered byÂ renewable sources, whichÂ will nowÂ contribute to achieving the target.
Until the very end, the European Parliament andÂ EU countriesÂ remained split over the so-calledÂ biofuels sustainability criteria, andÂ in particular whetherÂ to include the impact of so-called 'indirect land use'Â in the formula to calculate biofuels' overall CO2 performance. Such indirect factors include increased CO2Â emissions caused by deforestation andÂ higher food prices as a resultÂ ofÂ shifting landÂ from food to biofuel production.
In a compromise deal, aÂ legally-bindingÂ reference to indirect land use was dropped.Â Instead, the European CommissionÂ was asked toÂ come forward with proposals to limit indirect land useÂ caused by theÂ swtich toÂ biofuel production.
The European Parliament 's draftsman and negotiator,Â Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes , saidÂ the ParliamentÂ had succeeded in strengthening the so-called 'sustainability criteria' by ensuring that indirect land use must also be taken into account later on, asÂ the European Commission will have to come forward with proposals in 2010 to limit indirect land use change.Â
"We have also succeeded in strengthening the criteria designed to safeguard against the damaging impacts of biofuels. The 2020 target now applies to all renewable energy used in transport, so electric vehicles (generated from renewable sources), as well as trains, can be counted. Together with non-food/feed biofuels, this would account for over four-tenths of the 10% target. This means the contribution of food/feed agrofuels to the 10% target is substantially reduced," Turmes stated.
"The EU has agreed on the conditions for a massive increase in biofuel sales in Europe but has failed to guarantee that any greenhouse gas savings will be achieved as a result. The fundamental issue of indirect land use change (ILUC) was postponed with no legally-binding guarantee of it being accounted for in the future," deploredÂ Transport & Environment (T&E) , an NGO.Â
The biofuels deal angered manyÂ environmental organisations who argued it came at the expense of the world's poor, biodiversity and efforts to fight climate changeÂ toÂ prevail the specific interests of farmers and the biofuels industry. Without the indirect land use sustainability criteria,Â "the EU risks supporting massive production of biofuels, inside and outside Europe, that does not contribute at all to fighting climate change," theÂ NGOs said.
- 8Â Dec. 2008 : Council expected to reach political agreement on the draftÂ EU biofuels policy.
- 16-17 Dec. 2008 : First-readingÂ debate and vote on the dossier in Parliament plenary.Â
- Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance:Â EU renewables legislation being held ransom by ItalyÂ (4 December 2008)
- Transport & Environment (T&E):Â EU fails to guarantee emissions savings from biofuelsÂ (4 December 2008)
- EEB, BirdLife and Friends of the Earth:Â First cars, now renewables - EU governments failing climate tests - Deal on renewables held up by French mismanagement and undermined by promotion ofÂ (4 December 2008)