European Parliament urged to vote against ‘unfair’ biofuel cap

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has called on the European Parliament Environment Committee (ENVI) to vote against proposals to reduce EU renewable transport targets this Thursday.

The proposals are based on fears that greenhouse gases could be released indirectly as a result of land that is currently not cultivated coming into production – a process known as indirect land use change (ILUC)

Recommendations have been tabled to limit to the contribution of crop-based biofuels to EU transport energy at 5% and to introduce ‘ILUC factors’ into greenhouse gas calculations to account for any additional emissions.

However, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), which is jointly leading on this issue with ENVI in the European Parliament, has recently voted in favour of a specific 2020 advanced biofuels target and a 6.5% crop-based biofuels cap and against the incorporation of ‘ILUC factors’.

REA has urged the ENVI Committee to follow the recommendations of the ITRE, arguing that the science around ILUC was purely “theoretical” and therefore there could be no justification in incorporating limits.

REA head of renewable transport Clare Wenner said: “Calculating the correct factors is both impossible to do accurately, as it involves heroic assumptions about future land use changes, and also imposes an unfair penalty on biofuel developers, who are not the direct cause of the problem.

“No other land-using industry is being forced to account for ILUC, and biofuels, which are the only viable way of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our transport, should not be used as a guinea pig for ILUC accounting.

“Singling out crop-based biofuels would ultimately be counter-productive, as the biofuels market has been a great stimulus for investment in agriculture, which is critical if the world is to feed a growing population.

“Improving agricultural practices and productivity for all land-using industries is the only reasonable way to resolve the ILUC issue.

This sentiment was echoed last week by NNFCC chief executive Dr Jeremy Tomkinson who told edie that the effects of ILUC are often misunderstood

Tomkinson also argued that it was possible to manage global food stocks in a way that would ensure the conversion of land for farming was not always necessary.

In related news, a bioethanol plant at Saltend near Hull, which will produce 420 million litres of renewable transport fuel every year, was opened today.

The £350m Vivergo plant will also become the UK’s largest single source supplier of animal feed, generating 500,000 tonnes of animal feed co-products annually for use by UK livestock farmers.

Conor McGlone

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