MEP’s slap new limits on biofuels from food

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted to limit the amount of food crops used in the production of biofuels, but environmental groups say the new laws don't go far enough.

Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee agreed on Tuesday to limit the amount of food-based biofuels in the EU’s transport energy mix to 6%. The bloc has a target to source 10% of transport energy from all biofuels by 2020.

— Read more about the biofuels debate —

MEPs also approved proposals to account for the added emissions of indirect land use change, i.e. where trees are chopped down to grow crops for biofuels.

Finally, the voters agreed a new target for so called ‘advanced biofuels’ – which are sourced from seaweed or certain types of waste – which must now account for at least 1.25% of energy consumption in transport by 2020.

Clear signal

The Transport & Energy (T&E) lobby said the new laws should lead to cleaner alternative fuels.

“We welcome MEPs’ determination to limit the amount of bad biofuels the EU will blend in its petrol and diesel,” said T&E’s energy manager Nusa Urbancic.

“Although in some respects weaker than the original proposal from the Commission, this vote send a clear signal that the European Parliament wants cleaner alternative fuels that actually reduce emissions.”


By contrast, campaigners at Friends of the Earth – who had called for the 10% biofuels target to be cut in half – said that EU policy was a “disaster”.

“Limits on biofuels that compete with food crops are absolutely vital, but today’s vote doesn’t go far enough to completely phase out the use of food in our cars,” said FoE biofuels campaigner Robbie Blake.

“Nils Torvalds, the lead MEP in the process, must now bargain hard with EU governments to limit crop-based biofuels.”

Torvalds received a mandate (46 votes in favour, 20 against and two abstentions) to start negotiations with the Latvian Presidency of the Council of Ministers for a possible second reading agreement. Watch this space.

Brad Allen

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