Ministers place biofuels in a policy vacuum

Energy Ministers today failed to agree reforms to the EU laws that promote the use of biofuels for transport. Most actors now agree that current EU legislation is flawed and unfit for the purpose of delivering verifiable greenhouse gas emission reductions from the transport sector. Only Poland and Hungary considered that the proposal went too far; the great majority of Member States either supported a compromise or argued for more ambitious reforms.

‘The Council’s failure on biofuels follows other disappointing outcomes including the watering down of efforts to green Europe’s transport infrastructure and the Commission’s failure even to adopt proposals to ensure that solid biomass used for energy is produced sustainably and properly accounts for carbon emissions. Together these underline the confusion that has descended on policy for biofuels and bioenergy in Europe’ commented IEEP Director David Baldock.

Following the vote Member States were divided. The majority of those who rejected the compromise text, put forward by the Lithuanian Presidency, considered it too weak. IEEP Senior Researcher Bettina Kretschmer commented that: ‘As a consequence of this, and the imminent institutional changes in the Parliament and Commission, there is a risk that policy will remain unchanged for years to come. The Commission, Parliament and Council must find the political will to act swiftly to take biofuels greenhouse gas emissions properly into account’.

EU law should account properly for GHG emissions by incorporating indirect land use change emissions; capping the use of land-based biofuels; and setting a clear trajectory to support a more sustainable evolution of the sector by promoting more sustainable biofuels.

Fuller analysis by IEEP of the outcome of the Council vote and what it means for future EU biofuel policy will follow on Tuesday 17 December.

Please contact:
in Brussels Bettina Kretschmer (bkretschmer@ieep.eu), Tel: +32 (0)2 738 7478
in London Ben Allen (ballen@ieep.eu), Tel: +44 (0)207 340 2682

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