Biofuel land use questioned in EU consultation

Europe's goal of using biofuels to power a tenth of Europe's road transport came under scrutiny this week in a consultation on how European land can be used to meet the target sustainably, combined with foreign imports.

With the consultation on “biofuel issues in the new legislation on the promotion of renewable energy” the EU hopes to produce a biofuel sustainability scheme to allow the 10% by 2020 target produce maximum carbon savings.

The Europe-wide biofuel push, part of the recently published Energy Policy for Europe that set a 20% renewable energy goal for 2020, is aimed at curbing the climate change contribution from transport as well as reducing dependence on foreign oil.

But with many biofuels far from carbon neutral due to deforestation and fossil fuel-intensive methods used in their production, the plan will only be successful if it backs the ‘right type’ of biofuel.

Launching the consultation, EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “Biofuels play a key role in improving security of supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transport, while offering new sources of income to people dependent on agriculture, both in the EU and in developing countries.

“However, these advantages should not be offset by environmental damage through inappropriate land use or outdated production processes.

“That is why I am glad to announce this consultation exercise, which will help us design a simple and practical sustainability scheme.”

The consultation is seeking view on:

  • How should a biofuel sustainability system be designed?

  • How should overall effects on land use be monitored?

  • How should the use of second-generation biofuels be encouraged?

  • What further action is needed to make it possible to achieve a 10% biofuel share?

    The consultation remains open until 4 June 2007. More details can be found here.

    Goska Romanowicz

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