Reduced share of biofuels in energy mix

After realizing that some biofuels are not as environmentally friendly as anticipated, the Commission proposed to reduce their share in the renewable energy mix to 5% by 2020.

How did we get here?

The 2009 Renewable Energies Directive required a 10% share of renewable energy in all the energy used for the transport sector by 2020. The Fuel Quality Directive at the same time required a 6% greenhouse gas reduction for fuels used in this transport sector in 2020. In both cases biofuels would have played a significant role in meeting the targets.

This additional need for biofuels to meet the above mentioned targets might be achieved through more land dedicated to agriculture to grow more fuel crops. This would then lead to an indirect increase in emissions because e.g. forests are being converted to arable land which emits previously stored carbon dioxide in trees. In addition: "If you take a field of grain and switch the crop to biofuel, somebody somewhere will go hungry unless those missing tonnes of grain are grown elsewhere." (euractiv.com) Due to these potential problematic developments the Commission looked at the impact of this indirect land use change (ILUC) on greenhouse gas emissions and proposed this legislation for minimizing this impact.

Why is this important for me?

The goal of this legislation is to take into account that some biofuels are not as environmentally-friendly as anticipated and it aims at establishing new incentives for research and development to come up with cleaner biofuel versions.

 

What's the content?

To avoid these possible negative side-effects, the Commission suggested the iLuc Factor, to distinguish cleaner and dirtier types of biofuel. Biofuels need to meet this sustainability criteria, in order to be counted towards the targets and receive state subsidies. Discussions were mainly conducted around the scientific value of iLuc studies as well as the cap for biofuels in the renewable transport mix.

EU member states will have to set a national target, no later than 18 months after the directive enters into force, for advanced biofuels, e.g. sourced from certain types of waste and residues and new sources such as seaweed. The draft legislation sets an indicative target of 0.5% for the share of energy to be produced from advanced biofuels as a percentage of the energy derived from renewable sources in all forms of transport by 2020. Member states may set a lower target on certain grounds.

 

What's happening with this legislation in the future?

In April 2015 the European Parliament backed a deal with the Member States in a vote after lengthy discussions and disagreements. The Council  formally adopted the agreement in July, the law was published in the Offical Journal in September 2015. Member States will have to enact the legislation by 2017.

 

Related Bills:

Reducing pollutant emissions from cars

Cross-border enforcement for speeding & traffic offences

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