The European Parliament called for a cap on the use of traditional biofuels and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste, in a vote on draft legislation yesterday. So called “first-generation” biofuels – from food crops – should not exceed 6% of fuel used in transport by 2020, amending the target from 10%.The measures aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the increasing turnover of agricultural land to biofuel production.
“I welcome the Parliament vote in favour of correct accounting of greenhouse gas emissions including indirect land use change and in favour of a reasonable cap on first generation biofuels. This is an important signal that support should be focused on advanced biofuels from 2020. Taking indirect land use change into account is important for the integrity of the EU climate change policy”, said lead MEP Corinne Lepage (ALDE – Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe, France) after amendments to the draft legislation were approved with 356 votes in favour to 327 against and 14 abstentions. Before becoming law, the proposals still have to be agreed with the 28 member states’ governments, represented in the EU Council. “I regret however that the Parliament did not give a negotiation mandate that would have allowed the file to be concluded without further delay in order to give industry certainty regarding its investments”, she added.
Greenhouse gas emissions that result from the increasing use of agricultural land for biofuel production are addressed by studies of “indirect land use change” (ILUC). Scientific evidence has shown that the resultant increase in emissions can cancel out some of the biofuels’ benefits, when taken into account of the whole life cycle from production to consumption.
According to current legislation, member states must ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. In the adopted text, MEPs say first-generation biofuels (from traditional sources) should not exceed 6% of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020, as opposed to the current 10% target in existing legislation. Advanced biofuels, sourced from seaweed or certain types of waste, should represent at least 2.5% of energy consumption in transport by 2020, MEPs said.
Rapporteur Corinne Lepage was two votes short of receiving a mandate to negotiate with member states, who will now seek a common position of their own. If different to Parliament’s first reading text, a second reading will be required.
Yesterday the Europoean Parliament also postponed vote on whether to include shale gas fracking in an update of the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive to the October I session. Before voting, MEPs want to hold a plenary debate with representatives of the European Commission and the Council Presidency.
The draft report by Andrea Zanoni (ALDE, Italy) proposes amending existing legislation so as to require environmental impact studies for non-conventional hydrocarbon exploration and extraction projects. MEPs also suggest measures to prevent conflicts of interest and ensure that the public is informed and consulted.