17 December 2008

With a vote in the European Parliament, the EU has finalized its climate and energy policy. Agreement has been reached on legally binding targets, by 2020, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20%, to establish a 20% share for renewable energy, and to improve energy efficiency by 20%, in line with the proposals by European Commission.

Please log in to view the full version of this article (subscription required).

Agreements have also been reached on revisions to the emissions trading system, the distribution of the reduction effort outside of the emissions trading system, and a legal framework for environmentally safe carbon capture and storage (CCS).

A new directive will lay down mandatory national targets to be achieved by the Member States through the use of renewable energy in the electricity, heating and cooling, and transport sectors, to ensure that by 2020 renewable energy makes up at least 20% of the EU’s total energy consumption. In the transportation sector, by 2020 renewable energy—including biofuels, electricity and hydrogen produced from renewable sources—must account for at least 10% of the EU’s total fuel consumption in all forms of transport.

While the originally proposed 10% target for biofuels in transportation has been upheld, a number of alternatives have been added, such as:

  • Second-generation biofuels produced from waste, residues, or non-food cellulosic and ligno-cellulosic biomass, which will receive 2 × the credit towards the 10% target.
  • Renewable electricity consumed by electric cars (2.5 × the credit).
  • Renewable electricity for trains (single credit).

Biofuels must not be made from raw material obtained from several types of wooded land and other protected ecosystems which had the status of “land with high biodiversity value” in or after January 2008, whether or not the land still has this status.

To count toward the 10% target, biofuels must bring at least a 35% GHG emission reduction compared to fossil fuels. From 2017, the GHG emission reduction must be at least 50%, and 60% for biofuels manufactured in new production plants.

Source: European Parliament