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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

MEPs agree to cap biofuels and address flaws in CO2 accounting


The European Parliament’s environment committee today voted today on legislation aimed at curbing the negative impact on the climate associated with indirect land use change (ILUC) due to biofuel production. The Greens/EFA group is pleased with the vote, which will ensure that the emissions resulting from changes in land use associated with the production of biofuels and displacement of food production will be accounted for in the calculation of the decarbonisation goal under the EU fuel quality directive, although only from 2020 onwards. These emissions will also be included in the sustainability criteria as part of the greenhouse gas savings threshold under the EU’s renewable energy legislation.

Commenting on the vote, Bas Eickhout, Greens/EFA MEP and EP draftsperson on the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions said:

“With climate change already putting pressure on the global food supply and food prices, the EU should not be further exacerbating these trends by promoting the use of agricultural land for fuel. Feeding crops into cars has fuelled rising food prices and rainforest destruction. While we think that the vote to put a 5.5% cap on the use of land-based biofuels like food crops in the overall fuel mix is a step in the right direction, we should in fact be shunning the use of food crops for fuel altogether.

The environment committee has corrected the Commission’s failure to take account of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from indirect land use change. We welcome the fact that ILUC-factors that reflect climate change impacts will now also be included in calculations on the greenhouse gas balance under the EU fuel quality directive from 2020 onwards. This will help steer future investments in a sustainable direction.

The Greens also welcome the fact that ILUC-factors will be included in the sustainability criteria to be taken into account for the greenhouse gas savings cut-off threshold. Overwhelming evidence shows that Europe’s demand for biofuel accelerates the destruction of tropical rainforest. Even though conservative MEPs continue to bury their heads in the sand, a majority of the environment committee have voted to guarantee that biofuels placed on the EU market are better for the environment than conventional oil-based fuel. It is highly questionable why, at a time of severe economic crisis, the EU should continue subsidising biofuels to the tune of ten billion Euros, without putting these climate safeguards in place.”