Biofuels should not come at the expense of food or greenhouse emissions
The Socialists and Democrats today backed a proposal to stop incentivising biofuels based on food crops in order to prevent the distortion of world food prices*. The Fuel Quality and Renewable Energy Directives voted on today in Strasbourg will also identify and phase out biofuels which produce high emissions that add to the greenhouse effect.
The S&D Group welcomes the call to introduce indirect land-use change (ILUC) as mandatory factors to distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' biofuels according to their effects on food production.
S&D spokesperson on the issue in the environment committee, MEP Kriton Arsenis, said:
"The European Parliament sent a very clear message today. First-generation biofuels are not going to be promoted any longer. Instead producers will be incentivised to shift to second-generation biofuels using residues and not crops. Deforestation practices will be stopped as there will be no incentives for the production of bad biofuels.
"The only thing the centre-right majority achieved was to limit the S&D proposal for a 5.5% cap on biofuel production from cereal and other starch-rich crops to a 6% cap and to postpone the introduction of ILUC factors from 2018 to 2020.
"The major flaws in our current biofuel policy will be fixed. The €6 billion in EU subsidies that have been fuelling famine, poverty, land-grabbing and emigration in the least developed and developing countries, and adding greenhouse-gas emissions to our atmosphere will be directed to the sustainable production of good biofuels and towards climate action, job creation and prosperity.
"Member states must now respond to the Parliament's position promptly in order to avoid business uncertainty that could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in the good biofuel sector."
S&D spokesperson on the issue in the industry and energy committee, MEP Britta Thomsen, said:
"The only reasonable path the EU can choose is to invest in a greener and more sustainable transport sector. Using advanced biofuels – based on residues such as municipal waste, straw and algae rather than crops – is a way towards transport which is free from fossil fuels.
"In Europe we have a tremendous potential for creating advanced biofuels. It will improve our climate and create thousands of jobs in remote areas of Europe. This is why I am extremely happy that we decided today on a progressive sub-target of 2.5% for advanced biofuels."
* According to both the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agricultural commodity prices are likely to rise. Prices in the five years from 2015 to 2019 are expected to be 27% higher for wheat, 48% higher for maize and 36% higher for oilseed, compared to the period from 1998 to 2002. Without these changes, EU targets could have pushed food oils and grain prices up by 15% by 2017 (OECD figures).