The Commission published a proposal to limit global land conversion for biofuel production, and raise the climate benefits of biofuels used in the EU.
The use of food-based biofuels to meet the 10% renewable energy target of the Renewable Energy Directive will be limited to 5%. This is to stimulate the development of alternative, so-called second generation biofuels from non-food feedstock, like waste or straw, which emit substantially less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and do not directly interfere with global food production.
For the first time, the estimated global land conversion impacts – Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) – will be considered when assessing the greenhouse gas performance of biofuels.
As the market for biofuels has expanded, it has become clear that not all biofuels are the same, in terms of their greenhouse gas impacts from global land use. Recent scientific studies have shown that when taking into account indirect land use change, for example when biofuel production causes food or feed production to be displaced to non-agricultural land such as forests, some biofuels may actually be adding as much to greenhouse gas emissions as the fossil fuels they replace.
The Commission is therefore proposing to amend the current legislation on biofuels through the Renewable Energy1 and the Fuel Quality2 Directives and in particular:
- To increase the minimum greenhouse gas saving threshold for new installations to 60% in order to improve the efficiency of biofuel production processes as well as discouraging further investments in installations with low greenhouse gas performance.
- To include indirect land use change (ILUC) factors in the reporting by fuel suppliers and Member States of greenhouse gas savings of biofuels and bioliquids;
- To limit the amount of food crop-based biofuels and bioliquids that can be counted towards the EU's 10% target for renewable energy in the transport sector by 2020, to the current consumption level, 5% up to 2020, while keeping the overall renewable energy and carbon intensity reduction targets;
- To provide market incentives for biofuels with no or low indirect land use change emissions, and in particular the 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels produced from feedstock that do not create an additional demand for land, including algae, straw, and various types of waste, as they will contribute more towards the 10% renewable energy in transport target of the Renewable Energy Directive.
With these new measures, the Commission wants to promote biofuels that help achieving substantial emission cuts, do not directly compete with food and are more sustainable at the same time. While the current proposal does not affect the possibility for Member States to provide financial incentives for biofuels, the Commission considers that in the period after 2020 biofuels should only receive financial support if they lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings and are not produced from crops used for food and feed.
Wednesday October 17, 2012/ European Commission/ European Union.