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EU parliamentary committee votes for mandatory targets for advanced biofuels

24 June 2013

The European Union should boost the use of advanced types of biofuels by setting mandatory targets, said Energy Committee of the European Parliament in a vote on fuel quality and renewable energy legislation. The Committee also voted against including indirect land use change (ILUC) criteria in the legislation, relaxing the language proposed last October by the European Commission. The adopted text further softened the Commission proposal by increasing the limit for crop-based biofuels in transportation to 6.5%.

“Advanced biofuels” would be those produced from wastes, algae and other sources that don't compete directly with food and feed crops. Greater production of advanced biofuels should be encouraged by gradually phasing in mandatory targets for their use in the transport sector, whilst meeting certain sustainability criteria, says the text. The minimum targets proposed are: 0.5% in 2016, 2.5% in 2020 and 4% in 2025.

Conventional biofuels—produced from cereal and other starch rich crops, sugar and oil crops—should account for no more than 6.5% of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020, compared to 5% initially proposed by the Commission.

Greenhouse gas emissions linked to ILUC could be significant because almost all biofuel production in 2020 is expected to come from crops grown on land that could be used to satisfy food and feed markets, said the MEPs. In spite of this, ILUC factors should not be included in the legislation at this stage due to "considerable limitations and uncertainties" in the ILUC calculation methods.

MEPs asked the Commission to report on the progress of scientific evidence for the use of ILUC factors by the end of 2015 and proposed, if appropriate, legislation that would require suppliers to report on the estimated ILUC emissions of their biofuels from September 2016.

The committee's proposed changes will be put to a plenary vote, along with amendments to be adopted by Environment Committee. The Environment Committee, which is the lead committee, will vote on 10 July 2013. The plenary vote giving the mandate to start negotiations with the Council is expected to take place in early Fall.

Source: European Parliament