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Environment Committee backs switchover to advanced biofuels

A draft law to cap the production of traditional biofuels and accelerate the shift to alternative sources was approved by the Environment Committee on 24 February. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the growing use of agricultural land to produce biofuel crops.

Current legislation requires EU member states to ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. But in the draft law approved on Tuesday, MEPs say that first generation biofuels should not exceed 6% of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020.

Advanced biofuels, sourced from seaweed or certain types of waste, should account for at least 1.25% of energy consumption in transport by 2020, MEPs say.

Using farmland to produce biofuel crops reduces the area available for food crops. This adds to pressure to free up more land, e.g. through deforestation, to grow more food – a process known as indirect land use change (ILUC). But deforestation in itself increases greenhouse gas emissions, which may cancel out part of the beneficial effects of using biofuels.

Parliament called as long ago as 2008 for the ILUC factor to be taken into account in EU biofuels policy, which has a budget of €10 billion per year.

Lead MEP Nils Torvalds received a mandate (46 votes in favour, 20 against and 2 abstentions) to start negotiations with the Latvian Presidency of the Council of Ministers for a possible second reading agreement.

 

SOURCE: European Parliament





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