EU to revise legislation on biofuels

The European Commission is set to reconsider its draft legislation on biofuels following concerns raised by green groups over their environmental impact, whilst EU leaders had agreed that 10%
of Europe’s transport fuels should come from biofuels by 2020, recent reports warned that this policy could have negative consequences such as raising food prices and rainforest destruction.

Some 17 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) sent a letter to the EU’s Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, calling on him to introduce much tougher standards for biofuel production or give up
mandatory transport biofuel targets altogether.

They argued that the existing draft legislation does not provide protection for important ecosystems, such as savannas or permanent grasslands ‘that may be threatened by expanding agriculture
to meet the EU’s biofuel target’.

They also said that ‘large scale biofuel production can cause negative indirect or knock-on impacts such as increasing food and feed prices and increasing water scarcity which would lead to
negative impacts on the world’s poor’.

In reaction, the EU’s Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas suggested that the forthcoming guidelines should be changed, saying it would be better to miss the biofuels target than to hurt the
poor or damage the environment.

‘We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were. So we have to move very carefully,’ Mr Dimas told the British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

‘We have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels,’ he added.

Mr Dimas also said the EU would introduce a certification scheme for biofuels and promised a clampdown on biodiesel from palm oil which is leading to the destruction of forests in Indonesia.

On 23 January the European Commission will publish its legislation on the production of biofuels, aimed at promoting the use of this alternatives energy source.

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